I see a lot of pushback from the World, saying that Jesus hung out with whores and reprobates, and didn’t hang out with the Pharisees, so therefore He would like the outsiders more than He’d like us conservative Christians.
In some cases, I think they have a point. I mean, I have a mirror…
But they’re missing the Big Idea. Jesus 1) said “Go and sin no more” and 2) They did that. So, um, there was this thing called “sin” and everyone had some agreement about some of what it included.
It used to be this horrible thing, to be a sinner – your life was a mess, you knew your life was a mess and you hated yourself. Having someone come and wash you clean of your old life and make you into someone new, give you hope… that was a BIG DEAL. (Parable of the Two Debtors – see below).
Repentance, forgiveness, giving yourself to Jesus – they’re the start of a whole new life. That’s the joy – that you can start anew. That justice can be served AND mercy can exist. The Christians who have come to Christ as adults, who came from lives of sin… oh wow. They are SO in love with Jesus, so filled with joy, so dedicated to Him.
Jesus never said, “You’re totally fine the way you are, don’t change a thing”. If anyone was fine, He wouldn’t have had to die. He said, “I can change you – will you let me into your heart?” That’s the bit about repentance, you see? If you were perfect and fine, there would have been nothing to repent from. For some of us, the sins aren’t the kind that our neighbors point and stare at – but we sin, and we fail, and we get ugly. For others of us, the sins are *exactly* the kinds of things that the neighbors talk about. It doesn’t matter – either way, we become new in Christ.
Those of us who have been forgiven should remember both the magnitude of our debt, and shine forth the new life which is Christ inside our hearts.
Those who haven’t yet found Jesus should know that those things that hurt so badly when they look in their histories, in their hearts? That those things – yes, even *that* – can be forgiven. You can start over, start over with God inside your heart, enabling you to do the things you wanted to do and leave behind the things you hate so much.
You too can go and sin no more. But you’ll never do that until you admit that you’ve got sin going on. And we *all* have it. All of us.
The gift is free, and the change is radical.
The Parable of the Two Debtors: Luke 7:36-50
36 Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, 38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.”
40 And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” 41 “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” 44 Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. 47 For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” 49 Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” 50 And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”