Going Deeper 9-13-19

Luke 15:1-10   Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him.  And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them."  So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?  When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.'  Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.  Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?  When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.'  Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

 

“Be careful of who you hang out with!”   That is typically considered to be good advice.  Parents will often provide that type of guidance for their children.  Even the Bible speaks of how “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33).  The wisdom literature of Proverbs shares the same advice in multiple places. 

 

The Pharisees and Scribes took this ‘wisdom’ seriously, grumbling about the kind of bad company Jesus was keeping.  They were disgusted that He would “welcome sinners and eat with them.”  And this not only went against common wisdom, it was also a major breaking of cultural mores at that time.  To have table fellowship with someone was a way of demonstrating a very close connection.  To welcome sinners/outcasts was to place oneself in the same category.

 

As children of God, we understand that we must be careful about the potentially negative influence others can have on us and our children.  Negative peer pressure is a real thing.  But at the same time, we are called to love and care for the outcasts and to live out grace in relationship to other sinners.  Positive peer pressure is a real thing, too.  In the strength of the Holy Spirit of God, we are to welcome and have fellowship with those who need to hear of-- and experience-- the loving acceptance of their Abba Father and Brother Jesus.

 

Christians need to be careful with this.  If our churches have become gathering places for ‘good people,’ where sinners are unwelcome, then we fail to truly be Christ’s body.  All of heaven rejoices when sinners are restored through repentance.  We ought to join in such celebrating.

 

With You in His Grace,

 

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington, Colorado

 

“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”