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Lent Reflections: Thoughtfully Engaged

Matthew 9:10-11 ESV

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?"”

 

Hebrews 2:11-15 ESV

For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, "I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise." And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again, "Behold, I and the children God has given me." Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”

 

The Bible says in Hebrews chapter 2, that Jesus is not ashamed of us, but by the grace of God, he tasted death in our place.  The passage tells us this is so, because “He who sanctifies (Jesus) and those who are sanctified (us) are all from one Father.”  

 

During Jesus’s life, the religious high class often remarked incredulously at how Jesus could surround himself with tax collectors and sinners- those in lower classes and those marginalized by civilization.  The separation between the religious leaders and these sinners was intentional in order to avoid having the religious leaders’ status before God questioned. Jesus however saw those tax collectors and sinners differently.  Jesus saw them as those who might become “children given to Him by God” and addressed their true need of reconciliation with their Father.

 

We have to ask ourselves: are we are ashamed of the tax collectors, sinners, and those ostracized within our own communities? Do we choose to stand aside and protect our religious identity over engaging with and associating with those individuals?  If Jesus was here with us, would people be asking us as His disciples why Jesus eats with those people? Do we have a willingness to missionally engage with people as image bearers or do we engage only to point out what is separating them from us?

 

Our engagement should begin with recognizing that we, unlike Jesus, have no right to be ashamed. Jesus being the almighty, perfect God, had every right to separate Himself from sinful man, yet did not.  We ought to recognize that in this equation the church has been sanctified- meaning grace has been bestowed on us. Because of that we should be presenting the One who does sanctify to all.

 

Thoughtful engagement is interacting with people as Jesus did.  Jesus spent a large portion of His life with people within their normal life rhythms. He used contexts specific to those individuals to open their eyes to reality of who He was and the revolutionary way only He could fulfill the truest and deepest of their soul.  

 

Jesus presented the gospel in a way that said, “if you know who I am and what I can do for you, then when I ask you to follow me, with joy you’ll lay down everything and come.”  Knowing Jesus does not come as the result of someone changing their lives on their own. But when someone knows Jesus, repentance and true life change cannot help but follow. We need to introduce people to Jesus, and to do this by interacting with people as Jesus did. Have dinner with people. Suffer with those who are suffering. Laugh and enjoy life with others. All the while presenting Jesus as the One who give us bread to eat, offers hope and comfort in the midst of life’s brokenness, and gives a joy unlike any other.

 

Consider these questions today:

- What does it mean to you personally that Jesus considers you His brother/sister? Is your own understanding of what God thinks of you hindering your ability to present Him well to others?

 - Who are those in your life that you can engage as Jesus did? How do you present Jesus to others?  As a God judging from a distance or a Savior who is present and near?