“On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick…. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” Matthew 9:12–13 (NIV)
Jesus knew who he was, according to God’s design; Jesus knew whose he was, according to God’s truth; and Jesus knew his purpose for being here on Earth. All this allowed him to relax and ignore what others thought or said about him.
It meant Jesus wasn’t worried when others accused him of being a friend of sinners (Luke 19:7) because he was doing exactly what the Father sent him to do: persuade men and women to make peace with God (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Likewise, we’re to represent Jesus, speaking on his behalf to those still on the “outside.” Yet some of us are so isolated and disconnected from unbelievers that we rarely have any meaningful conversations with them.
As Pastor Rick teaches, the tendency is that the longer we’re believers, the more insulated we become from unbelievers and perhaps the more uncomfortable we become with them.
The result: We no longer have friends who are non-believers.
Jesus’ actions suggest that our witness to non-believers starts with friendship. We earn the right to share the Gospel through relationship, where we show that we care about the person, not just baptism statistics.
The apostle Paul encourages us to find common ground with non-believers. Finding common ground is an act of friendship; it guides us to look for the positive instead of the negative in those outside the faith.
When Jesus met the woman at the well, he pointed to what she and he had in common rather than the things he could rightfully condemn (John 4). As a result, she not only became friends with God, she brought her friends and family into the presence of Jesus.
Jon Walker’s new book, In Visible Fellowship: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer's Classic Work “Life Together,” is an explanation of why every believer needs to be involved in a small group and why small groups put flesh on the Body of Christ.
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Jon Walker is managing editor of Rick Warren’s Daily Hope Devotionals. © 2011 Jon Walker. Used by permission.