But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
~ Luke 5:30-32~
There is a growing trend among those both in and outside of the Church to avoid going to church because of those inside. To say it another way, there are people who feel that they are unwelcome in church because they are different or sinners. Perhaps they have been told they are sinners, or feel confronted about their sin. Hearing the truth is often uncomfortable, even for the saved. No person likes to be told they are bad or do wrong things, despite the fact that we know we do those things.
But this is not my point. There are bad things, and they are worthy of condemnation. But in light of all this, what are we to preach to all nations? The Gospel! The Gospel brings light and life where there was death and darkness. But instead of preaching the Gospel and new life in Christ that we have – sharing the hope within us – many Christians are quick to point out the sin. Because of this, many leave or stay away out of fear of condemnation from other Christians.
No one wants that. No one wants to be constantly reminded that they are bad and in sin and sin leads to death. These are all true things. But dear friends, let us remember who we are called to reach. The people outside of the Church, like we once were, are unaware of the wrong things that they do, or why they are wrong, or even the idea of sin! Yet they do know they are without hope, they do know they are different – they know that there are people casting glances at them for their dress and activities and words. They know these things, but fear keeps them from Love. A lot of that fear stems from the actions of those int he Church, both past and present. This is not the love we Christians are called to show. This is not the love, grace, and forgiveness first shown to us.
We have been pushing people out of the Church possibly because we have beguiled ourselves into thinking that Christians should look a certain way. This is not to say that we should not preach the truth, but that we should do it in love. We get the Gospel-Law-Gospel sandwich all the time. This is good. But those outside need the Gospel. They already have the Law. People are not perfect when they come to a knowledge of the truth, but they do know that something is wrong. Why not tell them of Him who made things right, Who is making us holy?
And what about ourselves? What did we need most to hear when we first heard of Christ?
But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
~ Luke 5:8 ~
This event happened just prior in the same chapter as the first passage. Peter says these words in response to the miraculous catch of fish. But what is His response? Here is Peter, who has already been standing in the presence of God, finally coming to the realization of who he is in relation to the Man standing before him. He is in awe, shock, and fear. For what is Peter? He is a sinful man, a lowly creation, and knows he does not deserve to be in the presence of Jesus. How is Jesus mindful of us?
What are we? We are sinners. Filthy, rotten, debase, rebellious sinners. Yet Jesus came down and took on our form, died for us, and took away that sin so that we could stand in the presence of God! He fulfilled the Law and put on Himself the penalty for our sin. This is not to say that we won’t sin or that we do not need daily repentance. But Jesus chose to come down to sinful man and save us because it was sinful men that needed saving, and by a perfect Savior. Because of Jesus, we are no longer worthless but worth everything, being made co-heirs with Christ and sharing in all the blessings that God richly gives! We are loved. Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and I think it would be good to remember Paul’s words: “of whom I am the worst.”
We are in the process of sanctification. We still sin and must ask for repentance daily and drown our old Adam as we are now washed in baptism. But we in the Church are not the only ones called or loved by God. We are not the only ones who need to hear the truth. There are others out there who need to hear the love of Christ and not the words of another person pointing out their sin. Sure, they have sin. So do we. That is why we need the Gospel-Law-Gospel sandwich so often. That is why we repent and ask for forgiveness. And thanks be to God that He gives generously! Thank God for His grace! I am certainly glad that I was not subject to the thoughts of others when Christ saved me. They would have condemned me long ago.
Who are we supposed to be fishing for? Jesus says at the end of this section that He would make the apostles fishers of men. To whom are we to go? To all the world and all mankind. Let us remember it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. The world and its people need a savior because we are helpless and in need of saving. The sick need a doctor; sinners need a savior, and that is what we are. But now we have this hope, and this hope is for all mankind. So are we going to reject the sick, or are we going to go out and fish? God’s love is not limited to us. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
Blessings to you and yours,