Dear Woodside… Love the Lost
“And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”” (Mark 2:17, ESV)
Who did Jesus spend much of his time with? Good people? Holy people? Not-So-Bad-But-Just-A-Few-Degrees-Off people? The answer to this question really caused Jesus a lot of trouble and tension within his community. Mark records for us in his Gospel the calling of Levi (or Matthew) to discipleship with Jesus. As soon as Mark tell us that Levi followed Jesus we find ourselves in Levi’s home with his friends and Jesus. There is Levi, the scoundrel, traitorous, thieving tax-collector, his friends… and Jesus.
The reputation of Levi’s friends was evident as well. Mark tells us that they were “tax collectors and sinners.” Mark isn’t using the label “sinners” here in the generic “we are all sinners” manner. He is saying that the people that hung out with Levi, and were at his house, in his life, were primarily known for being notorious sinners. Their lives were identified by gambling, abuse, violence, law-breaking, immorality, and every shade of sin in between. Think about this kind of reputation, they were known primarily as evil people — THE sinners.
And where was Jesus in relationship to this household crowd of wickedness? He was reclining at the table with them. He was sharing a meal of friendship with those who were sick sinners. To have a meal like this with “sinners” was a deep violation of cultural and religious norms for Jesus’ day. He wasn’t affirming their sin, but he was loving those who were known as sinners.
This is the very reason for the tension between Jesus and the religious leaders. They were frustrated and condescending to Jesus because he spent his time with them and loved them. In fact that was essentially what Jesus declared as his mission to be, “not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus was there to love the lost.
Our posture towards notorious “sinners” today can be to hold them at arms length. We might work hard to keep our distance from them because we are somehow afraid that they may get us dirty by our relationship with them. But consider the way Jesus loved the lost. He ate with them, he spent time with them, he befriended them. He came not to call the self-righteous, clean-in-our-own-eyes religious people. Jesus came to the broken, the wrecked, the sick, the sinners.
My hope is that our relationship towards sinners would be the same as Jesus’ relationship. I pray that we would be in their lives, that they would be in our lives, and that by our friendship we could share the good news of Christ with them. That kind of life with sinners might make the stuffy and self-righteous uncomfortable but Jesus came for the lost. So we, as his disciples, are called to love the lost as well.
Let me encourage you to be people who love the lost. Christ has been gracious and loved us, not because we were lovable. I long to see our church be a place where the lost are known, loved, served, and ultimately saved because we are place where broken people can come and taste and see the deep, deep love of Jesus. Woodside, let’s love the lost!
This Sunday at Woodside
This weekend we will continue our Exile series in 1 Peter by looking at 1 Peter 4:12-19. Here’s the songs we will be singing which you can listen to on Spotify before we gather:
- 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)
- Be Thou My Vision
- Great Are You Lord
- Found In You
- Holy Spirit
Our Trunk or Treat event is coming up very soon (Oct 24). Let me strongly encourage you to bring a few bags of Halloween candy and place them in the Trunk or Treat container in our lobby. This is going to be a great afternoon of fun and grace to love the lost and bless our community. We need your help to be fully prepared and ready to do this! So bring a few bags of candy this week so we can give them away on Oct 24. We are also still in need of volunteers and help to pull this off. Let us know how you can serve by signing up —> Click here to sign up and serve on Oct 24!
As I have been spending some time on vacation this week with my family I have been praying for you and look forward to seeing you on Sunday as we gather to worship together. Please don’t hesitate to let me know how I can pray for you. May Jesus be our focus and our glory!