New Hope Baptist Church
Friday, January 18, 2019
a place to call home


And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  But when he heard it he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick…For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Matthew 9:10-13

Last night’s discussion left me joyed to serve this community of believers. One of the main questions we wrestled with is, “How do you hate the sin and love the sinner.” First, I was glad that this question is floating through our congregation because it shows that this church cares about the Bible; we look to glorify God and refuse to turn a blind eye to sin. Secondly, I was proud of you all for desiring to know how to better serve people in the community of Holden. With so much hatred and bigotry in the world it is refreshing to see this congregation having hard conversations that ultimately end in us being faithful to the call of God.

In our Scripture above I want us to think about this today, did Jesus use this to describe himself? Did he say he was running around eating with “them” people, “them” sinners? I think these were labels used by the religious elite of Jesus’ day to show contempt for “inferior” people. The crazy thing was, Jesus didn't hang around sinners and act like they were sinners. They were simply friends. They were people with feelings, who had names and fears and concerns and family. They were defined not as “them” people but people created in the image of the creator, his brothers and sisters. We read in the interactions with Jesus that sin was never the deepest identity of a person.

However, we cannot condone sin. We have to stare it down boldly and call it what it is. We can do this in a loving way by first offering to listen, show concern and let our words be filled with grace. I remember having a conversation with one of the transgender men in our facility and I said to him, “I think what you’re practicing is leading you straight to hell. Anyway, can I get you a jacket it’s starting to get cold out?” This firm stance on Biblical principles coupled with a deep concern for the individual moves us from drawing circles in the sand and into bridging divides between “us” and “them” all while showing the world we love them so much we’ll boldly affirm the truth that Jesus is their/our only hope and this affirmation motivates us to care for all of humanity.