7.3.13 "Hanging out with Riffraff"

Today’s Scripture is:  Matthew 9: 9-13  (The Message)                     

Passing along, Jesus saw a man at his work collecting taxes. His name was Matthew. Jesus said, “Come along with me.” Matthew stood up and followed him.

10-11 Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?”

12-13 Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.”

The first thing I’m reminded of in this scripture is Jesus’ connection with people.  He doesn’t go rent a room somewhere and wait for people to come to Him, He’s out walking the streets, talking to people, calling people to follow Him.  He’s dining with people and living with them in their environment.  He’s defending them when they are judged and He has compassion on them and on their circumstances.  I’m challenged to do the same here because I know that I can get complacent in my church office… behind my computer…. just waiting for people to come to us… to Point of Grace…to me.  I can easily choose to ignore the call to “get out in the world” because I work in ministry in a church environment…and after all, isn’t that enough?  Isn’t working here at POG enough ministry…enough involvement…enough time spent with hurting or far from God people?  I’m sorry to say that I have felt that way before.  But that’s not what the example of Jesus is in this scripture!  It’s getting out, it’s doing, it’s mingling, it’s meeting, it’s calling, it’s eating and loving and listening and inviting people over… and opening up my life enough that people see what Jesus means to me and how I live differently because of Him.    

So what would it look like for me to cozy up to riffraff and crooks?  What does my heart have to recognize in order for me to feel as comfortable with disreputable characters as Jesus did?   I know I have to set pride aside… the kind of pride that says, “I’m better than they are”, or the kind of pride that says, “I could never be in their situation”, or the kind of pride that says, “What will people think of me if I’m seen with riffraff”.   Have you ever had those prideful thoughts about people who are poor, or have a record, or live on the streets, or can’t seem to get their life together….. etc., etc….?  I’m a lot less prone to that now than I used to be because Jesus has been working on my heart and showing me my ugly prideful areas, but I’m still not immune to those thoughts.   It’s a daily check in my spirit and a daily surrender of pride that will help me live like Jesus did. 

And now I have to pray for opportunities to meet the fringe people…the unusual people, the hard to love people, the extra grace required people, the people that smell because they don’t have a place to take a shower, and the people that require my TIME.  Jesus spent almost all of His time with people far from God, and this example is a powerful reminder that loving riffraff people takes sacrifice.  People matter to God so they should matter to me, no matter who they are, what they wear, how they smell, where - or if they work, or where they come from. 

Lord, please help me love like you love.  Give me your heart for the sick and the lost.  Give me your heart and your perspective in all the situations you put me in.  Help me to fully honor the example you put before me by making a true effort to be with people, taking initiative to develop a relationship with them, and being prepared to give them an answer for the hope I have…so they can come to know you as their Lord and Savior.   Amen

What are your thoughts on this scripture today?  Please share –