“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'”
I sometimes struggle with being a spiritual snob. I look down on unbelievers Monday – Saturday, and then I look down on “wimpy” Christians at church on Sunday. I sure am glad God doesn’t look at me like that.
Jesus was in the business of “shock and awe” and the people He chose to associate with and break bread with played a pivotal role. He interacted with the religious leaders of the day, of course, but most of His time was spent with the “common folk”…the sinners and the thieves and the prostitutes and the fishermen and the lepers. Do you ever spend time with those kinds of people? Sadly, for most of us, the answer is probably “no”.
Jesus never spent much time with uninterested, unrepentant sinners. His crowd was made up of people that realized He was not just another teacher, but something different…something better. They weren’t the most polished bunch. They didn’t come out to see Him in their “Sunday Best”. They were interested in what He had to say and were willing to admit that they didn’t have it all together and needed help.
Without a doubt, our closest friends and advisers should be solid Christians, but let’s not ever pass up an opportunity to hang out with the same kind of people Jesus hung out with: broken people who are yet to find the Savior.