A Prayer to Sit with Sinners
By Ashley Moore
“And the Scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ 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 2:16-17, ESV
“I’m not shopping there anymore.”
“I’m not eating at that restaurant.”
“I won’t be seen supporting anything that supports (insert whatever sin is being glorified in our world at the time).”
We are so quick to cancel–especially on social media. And I understand most Christ-followers do not intend for their strong opinions or social posts to hurt anyone intentionally. Because I personally know many who have shared these articles, and I know that in real life, they would never, ever exclude anyone from enjoying a meal at their table based on their skin color or gender identity. If they ran into someone in public who thought and lived differently than them, they would treat them with the same kindness they give a fellow congregant at church. They would welcome them in love.
But on the internet, people don’t see that. All they have to go on is what we’ve shared. And if we were to put ourselves in their shoes for just a moment, our re-share or flippant response could be perceived as a personal slight. Our comments and statuses are often towards business ideals, not targeted at specific people, but our written response doesn’t give that distinction. Instead of withholding our support in an effort to uphold biblical principles and liberties, our posts are perceived as personal attacks, shame fests, or an all-out war on individuals.
And I wish more of us Jesus followers understood that we can’t expect lost people to understand biblical truths or display biblical fruit. They’re lost. The Bible calls them blind, saying they are veiled from the truth (2 Corinthians 3:14).
I love Jesus’ strong rebuke to the Pharisees. Because it also applies to us. Somehow some of us have mistaken Christianity as a call to hunker down and protect the flock from the outside world. Much like the Pharisees began to believe, we fall for the lie. It’s us against them. But that’s not what Jesus said. Instead, He reminded the Pharisees and us, He didn’t come to rescue the righteous (those already in Christ). He came to save those sick and in need of a savior (Mark 2:17). His plan for reaching those in need of a savior was by putting His Spirit inside His people. We are salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). But how can those in need of the Great Physician see the light if we withhold our presence from the places where they are or refuse to have meals at the restaurants where we may encounter them?
We don’t have to support worldly ideals. And if the Holy Spirit prompts you through His Word and confirms through His people that you need to refrain from doing business at a certain place, by all means, obey God. But I wonder if we even consult God before we enact our attempts to make a stand for biblical principles. Friend, this can be so dangerous because we never know who our words behind the screen may be confusing and further pushing away from coming to know Christ. Let’s not confuse sitting with sinners as somehow renouncing our salvation or our belief in God’s Word. Sitting with a sinner doesn’t make us unsaved. After all, our way to salvation, Jesus Christ, consistently sat and dined with sinners, tax collectors, and the like. Maybe we should too?
Thank you for your Word; that is our solid foundation when we get carried away by the opposing narratives in the world. Jesus, protect us from the enemy, who seeks to divide us, turn us against each other, and stop sharing the Gospel with those who desperately need it! Lord, forgive us when we carelessly speak or post things that do not portray your great love for lost people. Give us wisdom, Lord. Help us know how and when to make a stand. And when to have conversations in love over a meal. Lord, we need your wisdom. Thank you for giving it generously without finding fault. Thank you for your Spirit that reminds us of your word and helps us know what to say. May we heed the Spirit in all our interactions. And may we be salt and light in a dark world that needs your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Zinkevych
Ashley Moore is a writer and host of be the two™podcast. She is known for her relatability and for passionately writing and speaking about mental, emotional, and relational health from a biblical worldview. She has written for Kingdom Edge Magazine, Guideposts, Crosswalk, The Secret Place, enLIVEn, The Bubbling Brook and more. If Ashley isn’t writing, you can find her with her husband, three children, and two floppy-eared Goldens on their south Georgia farmland. The best way to connect with Ashley is to grab a free devotional or Bible study and join her newsletter at free.ashleynicolemoore.com.
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