Herald JournalColumns
May 22, 2006, Enterprise Dispatch
Pastor's Column

Friends of Sinners

By Pastor Steve Olson, Gethsemane Lutheran, Dassel

“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Jesus- Mat 9:13 )

People judge you by the company you keep. That’s what my mother used to say and that’s why the religious types had such a problem with Jesus. They didn’t like the company he kept.

Instead of being the good little rabbi who played it safe, Jesus lived on the edge of society. In fact, he sought out the very people “good little rabbis” would cross the street to avoid.

He sought out the crooks in government and drunks on the street. He sought out the gluttons and all manner of sinners. Wherever there was a heart broken by sin, he was there, and that is where we need to be, too.

The church was never meant to be a country club for saintly people. It was never meant to be a refuge from “real life.” That is not our calling.

Our calling is to be the friends of sinners, just as Jesus is their friend.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we condone the sin. When something goes against God’s will, we don’t turn a blind eye to it! We condemn the sin, but we don’t condemn the sinner.

In the spirit of love and in the hope of healing, we befriend them, just as Jesus has befriended us.

Like our Lord, we become friends of sinners by seeking them out. We go where they are to share the good news of God’s love. We tell of the forgiveness that is ours for the asking in Christ Jesus.

We offer the love and that forgiveness that frees people from the power of sin. For, it is that love and that forgiveness that gives people another chance at life, a life free from fear and guilt.

This is our calling. This is our mission, but do we have the guts to do it?

Do we have the guts to be a friend of sinners, like Jesus? Are we willing to let people look down on us because we run with the wrong people?

I hope the answer is yes. I pray that our churches will be churches where all sinners are welcome.

“May God Grant us the guts to be friends of sinners in Jesus name.”


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