Billy Graham once told the story of a televangelist who said, You didn’t catch Jesus associating with questionable people or those whose basic ideas and attitudes were at variance with what Jesus knew to be honorable and right!
When Jesus said to his disciples, But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere–in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8), which people did the televangelist think Jesus wanted the disciples to witness to? Only the good ones, who already knew Him?
This all goes back to being in the world, but not of the world. We are born into this sinful world with a sin-filled nature
Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick… (Mathew 9:10-12)
Sinners, my friend, males, females, young, old, rich, poor, Jew or gentile–like cheating tax collectors (Matthew, Zacchaeus), adulterers (Woman, where are your accusers?), prostitutes (the woman at the well)–it didn’t matter. He sat and ate with them and even went out in public areas to find them. And He forgave them all.
We were a part of that limitless crowd who were unhealthy and needed a physician. And just because we have been healed by the Great Physician doesn’t mean that we are to isolate ourselves from the remaining sick people. Think of what the apostle Paul said, Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. (I Corinthians 9:19-23)
He didn’t become a hothouse Christian–remaining only with those of like faith where he could feed himself continuously without ever being negatively influenced by the outside world. He began a series of journeys that took him around a great part of the known world–including Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire.
We live here, but our true home is in that Heavenly place. We are just visitors with a job to do. And that job includes everyone we meet–on the job, at school, in the neighborhood, in our families. We have been saved by the Great Physician. Many we meet are still sick with sin. Are we going to be the ones to recommend the Great Physician to heal them and set them free? Or are we going to hide in our Churches or prayer closets and hope someone else does the work?