LUKE 7:34 – The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’
THEME OF THE DAY. LIKE OUR MASTER. As followers of Christ, we are surrounded with many who are not followers of Christ. There are few, if any, days we won’t find ourselves with encounters or dialogues with unsaved people. And I hope we are taking the initiative to have those encounters and dialogues. We need them. It is part of our responsibility to obey the Great Commission – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). Yet, our encounters and dialogues are not be seen as “strategic Gospel strikes” where we “dive in” with a Gospel presentation or a Gospel tract and then retreat back into our “safe base” of Christian culture. Yes, we will have those encounters and dialogues of directness with the Gospel, but we also have another aspect of our witness for Jesus Christ which is vital to both the proclamation of the Gospel and affirmation of the Gospel. It is developing what I call “redemptive relationships” with non-Christians. But before we look at this, I want to add two statements of clarity.
First, building and having “redemptive relationships” with non-Christians is not being silent with the Gospel and just “living the Christian life” before them. No one meets Christ by merely watching how a Christian life is lived. The Gospel is a message to proclaim. We cannot excuse away our fear of witnessing by saying, “My witness is my Christian life lived before my neighbors.” That is true, but not the whole truth. Our witness includes words.
A second point of clarification is that we don’t “bombard” those with whom we are building redemptive relationships with a constant barrage of “Gospel” words. We do live Gospel-centered lives before our unsaved friends to give credibility to the message of the Gospel. We proclaim the Gospel by our words AND affirm the Gospel by our living. And now, what about those “redemptive relationships” we seek to build among the unsaved people in our lives? They are summed up by one thing. It is being one of the identifiers given to Jesus; “a friend of sinners.”
In our communities, neighborhoods, and spheres of influence among the unsaved, we should be known as loving, giving, and always available with a helping hand and a listening ear. The credibility of our message will be determined by the caring of our persons. Our Master, the Lord Jesus, didn’t retreat from the world and people. He immersed Himself in the world and culture. He ate with sinners. He healed sinners. He served sinners. He sympathized with sinners. He talked to sinners. He didn’t avoid sinners. He didn’t isolate Himself from sinners. And if we are to be used by the Master in the mission of His Gospel, we must be like our Master in the mission of His Gospel.
So, if we each had access to those people in our lives who are not Christians, would they say of us, “Yes, (he or she) is my friend. (Our name) is someone whom I know I can count on and cares about me.” May it be so as we seek to build redemptive relationships. And may we become more and more like Him who was known as “a friend of sinners.”
PRAYER: “Father, help me to be more and more like Your Son in all my relationships – saved and unsaved.”
QUOTE: “To be like the Master includes not only our relationship with His people but in the world of sinners.”