As a young boy I lived on a farm with my Pa-Paw. I remember a time when one of my uncles made a visit. Just before dinner we were sitting around telling stories about things that had happened in the past and my uncle started doing an impression of Pa-paw. He used a lot of foul words and said some things that we knew Pa-paw would never say. It made us all a little uncomfortable. Why? Well, the problem was, he had a distorted view of who he was and what he was like.
Sometimes I think that’s us. We are so unlike God and to make matters worse, we have a distorted view of who He is and what He is like. The difference between us and Him is not simply that He has infinitely more power (though He does) It is a love issue!
The difference may be seen best in the way He and we look at sinners (in our case, fellow sinners). Think about it: God Loves Mankind – Sinful Mankind! Even though God is a hater and enemy of sin, He loves sinful mankind! We are selfish, smug, self-righteous, and wicked and He still loves us.
In writing to the church in Rome, Paul said: “But God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
He goes on to say in verse 10; “When we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son.”
I believe God enjoys our company! What else could explain His choosing to become a part of a nation of sinners, to come and walk with us? On one occasion He said; “Sell yourself – go ahead, sell yourself even for a world, and I tell you, you have made a bad bargain.” Matthew 16:26 (LSV, Lynn Stringfellow Version)
Now contrast that love with our love: We often love only what mankind should be. We rejoice only in the not-yet-existent person. We barely tolerate the person standing in front of us. And that tolerance only last as long as it appears we can hope for change. We feel awkward and uncomfortable in the presence of sinners. We feel relief only if we can tell ourselves that we “set them straight” before we turn our backs and walk off. Our obsession that someone out there is getting away with something is so unlike Jesus, who sought the company of sinners, that it is just…shameful.
How can we reach out to sinners, if we don’t love them?
The Apostle John said; “If anyone says, “I love God”, yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. “ 1 John 4:20
And listen to these words of Jesus; “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. “ Revelation 3:20
The living Christ said this to a church no one would brag on, to a church that told Him they didn’t need Him. To a church that was poor, naked, blind, pitiful and wretched. Above all the other things they needed, they desperately needed a “door-knocking” Jesus. Who despite His revulsion for their sin, loved them and longed to have a profound fellowship with them.
All people – Sinners and Saints alike – Matter to God!