If your life were a reflection of the God you follow and believe in, what would those looking on say your God was like? Many of us reflect a God who is distant, with little involvement in a messy world, except to announce rules to keep things in order.
Religious leaders of Jesus’ day proclaimed a God who reigned and enforced rules. It kept them insulated from a broken world. Their position as rule enforcers kept them in esteemed posture with their God, or so they thought.
(Enter Jesus—a portrait of the confounding love of God.)
When Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,” it drove the religious leaders nuts (John 14:9 NIV)! His portrayal of God confronted their values and life work.
Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:1 NIV)
In response, Jesus told several stories about things that were lost, to show how the real God behaves as a result of His love for lost people! Here’s one story:
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (Luke 15:4-7 NIV).
The Pharisees believed in the God of Rules. It kept them from associating with rule breakers (did they fear they would catch the “disease” of rule-breaking if they got too close?). But Jesus reflected a God of Love, determined to go out of His way to live among broken people, who in their hopelessness broke the rules.
What do you think? What keeps Christian people, supposed followers of Jesus, from going out of their way to befriend those far from God?
To what extent do people’s sinful behavior keep us far from them?