It’s All About Who You Know

prostituteI’ve been thinking for the last few days about who I know in comparison to the people Jesus hung out with. There’s a place in Jesus’ story where the “bad guys” remark that he hangs out with tax collectors and sinners. The terms used in both cases describe the sort of people that anyone with a concern for holiness would avoid.

A friend of mine argued that Jesus didn’t really do that, it was an accusation from the “bad guys” trying to make Jesus look bad. After all, “bad company corrupts good morals“.

That’s a pretty tough argument to support about Jesus though. Jesus even tells the religious right of his day that the tax collectors and prostitutes are in line ahead of them for the Kingdom of God. When Jesus’ story intersects the story of a particularly short tax collector (read that – “traitor to his own people” or “conspirator with the oppressors”) the tax man invites the only friends he had – sinners – rejected by the religious right – for dinner to meet his new friend Jesus.

And today I’m wondering why I don’t know any prostitutes. I’m wondering why I’m comfortable calling myself a follower of Jesus when I don’t go where he went.

I can’t shake this thought that we’ve desperately lost the plot if we think “para church” organizations and “inner city missions” are supposed to be Jesus to these folks. Essentially, “let’s create a Christian ghetto and keep these brothers and sisters in their own neighbourhoods”. I’m afraid that so much of this system I’m part of and I call “church” is really just another way to give me the bright, shiny, happy life my TV tells me I deserve.

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About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Church, Confession, Friends, God, Life, Meaning, Reflective, Relationship, religion. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to It’s All About Who You Know

  1. Philippa says:

    True… but unless God calls you to minister there, you’re to be salt and light where you are. I’m sure you know a lot of people with problems, as do we all. There are likely alcoholics, child abusers, pornography addicts and other “sinners” who you hang around with (you just don’t know they have those problems). Unless you only know Christians (which would be a bad thing).

    I don’t think we have to seek out a particular group of people just because they’re there. We can support organizations with money so ex-whoevers can minister effectively.

    This isn’t meant to be critical, I’m hoping it’s encouraging that you shouldn’t beat yourself up because you don’t know any “real” sinners. I think the verse also speaks to our heart attitude. Next time we pass someone begging, could we buy him/her some food? If we came across someone who is today’s “tax collector”, would we shy away in disgust, or would we love them as our neighbour?

    Blessings

  2. brianmpei says:

    Hi Philippa, thanks for stopping by. I’m guessing you’re from the U.K. (but turns out you’re a Kiwi) so you traveled pretty far to get over here to C.V.

    I didn’t take you to be critical at all and I appreciate your thoughts.

    The trouble I’m having is Jesus actually did go, told us to go and I can’t find that verse on “blooming where you’re planted” though I’m sure I’ve got that on a wall hanging somewhere! 😉 I am in relationship with alcoholics (both recovering and in full-blown addiction), child abusers, porn addicts (and if we apply AA principles I’d have to say I’m in recovery myself on that one).

    But for those who are still in the midst of their full on “sin” I don’t really spend time hanging out with them or going where I can hang out with them the way Jesus did. And that still troubles me.

    Blessings on you and yours Philippa and again, thanks for stopping by and sharing an encouraging word!

  3. BrianD says:

    The “bloom where you are planted” thing may not be in the scripture, but there are sections that refer to each of us having the gifts to do certain things. If it isn’t your gift, you have to leave it to someone who has that gift to do it. That doesn’t mean you turn your back on an opportunity. You have to make the most of the opportunities that present themselves, but everyone has areas of ministry where they have capabilities, or gifts. You know, the stomach works well as a stomach, but wouldn’t function very well as a brain. That’s not to use this as an excuse for inaction; there is no excuse for inaction. We need to make sure we take action where we are led to take action. I fully believe that some people are best equipped to be in the church using their gifts to train others who can reach people in places the leaders can’t go.

  4. Yves says:

    Great post Brian.

    I think of Legion.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legion_(demon)

    I see Jesus seeing opportunities to minister to people…. and he’s not blinded by any fears or insecurities… He speaks truth to them….

    I believe that some people find favor in certain circles where other people wouldn’t… absolutely… but I also see that Jesus was who he was and was willing to share this to whoever was interested in listening to the good news…. no matter if it was someone with some physical imparement, legion, drug addict, alcoholic, prostitute,crook…. it didn’t matter.

    What mattered was that he (Jesus) reckognized an opportunity to minister to someone…. and stepped up to the plate…. to share the good news….

    There was no box to fit it in.

    God is the screw driver…. and we’re all nuts.

  5. Philippa says:

    @brianmpei

    You never know, this “holy discontent” (to quote Bill Hybels) could be the Holy Spirit starting to convict you to do some work ministering to prostitutes (probably the males since you’re a guy). See where God leads you!

    Blessings

  6. brianmpei says:

    Thanks for all the comments. I’ll just toss one last thought out on this (as I continue to process). I’m not really struggling with purpose or calling – I think I’ve got those figured out. I’m struggling with relationships and why my circle isn’t as diverse as Jesus’.

  7. Yves says:

    @brianmpei

    That’s what I thought.
    😉

    Love reading the blog Brian…. remember years back….. playing all that music??

  8. brianmpei says:

    I do Yves! We had some pretty great times. Back playing with a band here again after thinking I wasn’t supposed to for a long time. Nothing like finding the groove with good friends man!

    Let’s break an egg roll together soon!

  9. Yves says:

    Egg roll = good.
    😉

    We (me and Tina) are hoping to fix the old deck on our new/old house this spring….

    And have barbecues with some friends…. you will be counted among the invited…

    (don’t worry… I likely won’t cook much)

  10. TJ says:

    Sometimes….people don’t have a bottle in their hand, a needle in their arm, or a ‘John’ driving by to be in the ‘midst of their full on ‘sin’…’
    And you really don’t know if you really don’t know any prostitutes.
    In the place you are now, you might have a tougher job, cuz you may have to do more digging than others in order to uncover the ‘diversity’ you’re looking for…some really ugly garbage can be really easy to bury and hide….
    Haven’t you said you started out wanting to be an acrchaeologist?
    Indiana Jones of the pulpit…yeah, that’s a better image than the braided belly hair guy…
    Blessings all over you for staying curious…
    My latest search is for my passion…

  11. brianmpei says:

    Are you trying to narrow it down to just one TJ or are you looking for passion for life (which may or may not involve cutting off an ear)?

  12. TJ says:

    Ah…good question…
    I have the passion for life…can’t wait to meet each day, to breathe, to see, to smell, to experience it…
    Recently though, He seems to be nudging me to find something specific…so I search…

  13. brianmpei says:

    The search is good. Usually more important than the finding.

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