So how did Jesus interact with everyday people, not the religious who thought they were sinless or those who were anti-Jesus, meaning they wanted to live however regardless of his teachings. But what about honest people who were really interested in being in a relationship with Jesus – how did he treat those people?
While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:15-17 NIV)
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:1-10 NIV)
Jesus wasn’t afraid to be with people far from God. He knew that the closer people got to Him, the closer they got to God. According to the ministry of Jesus, life transformation didn’t happen by going to church, being part of a Bible study, praying more (all important spiritual disciplines by the way), but by time spent in His presence.
So, when it comes to Ellen, what would Jesus say? “Come to me.” It’s really that simple. I think Jesus would invite himself over for dinner at her house. And the question you have to ask, if He did that would you criticize Him for it? If you would, who are you aligning yourself with in the stories we read? Or would you, like His true disciples, go with Him, even if it was really uncomfortable for you?
This weekend I will talk about turning the tide of how the church has responded to the homosexual community, so that we can begin the conversation afresh with the life of Jesus in mind. I hope you can join me and open your heart to the grace-filled work of Jesus in and through our church.