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Inglesia del Nazareno Communidad de la Esperanza
July 7, 2013 : Contagious Relationships: Rubbing Shoulders with Sinners
Dr. Burnie R. Burnside
The author of the first book in the New Testament, Matthew, or Levi as he’s sometimes called, was a tax collector in his pre-Christian days. Matthew threw a party for all his tax-collecting buddies to announce that he was closing up shop and signing up for a tour of duty with a teacher named Jesus.
Jesus handpicked Matthew and personally challenged him to follow him.
Jesus wanted him to be his disciple.
Right after he accepts the challenge to be a follower of Christ, he throws a party, a big banquet for his fellow tax collectors and friends (Luke 5:29).
The party was thrown to introduce his friends to Jesus and his disciples.
Matthew’s party shows us that Matthew had a tender heart toward those he knew who were headed to hell.
The Pharisees have a major problem with evangelistic Matthew Parties.
Their primary objection is they don’t feel comfortable with the fact that Jesus is rubbing shoulders with the likes of Matthew’s tax-collecting buddies.
The hearts of the Pharisees were stone-cold toward sinners.
Jesus’ response to the Pharisees’ concerns by comparing himself to a doctor.
Jesus said about his mission, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Romans 3:10 tells us that there’s none who are righteous, not even one.
And Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”—including these Pharisees!
Jesus is announcing that he will always make time for those who carry a humble sense of their own sinfulness in their hearts.
Jesus was teaching that lost people really do matter to the Father.
There’s more to the life of following and serving God than the meticulous carrying out of kingdom commands, as important as those are.
Redeemed persons must also have as a goal of becoming increasingly tender and concerned about the condition and fate of the lost.
Be careful that you don’t get so wrapped up in the doing side of the Christian life that you neglect the loving side of the faith—especially the loving of lost people.
The longer you walk with Christ, the softer your heart should become toward spiritually wayward people.
If a Christian is growing properly, he or she will continually grow in compassion for spiritually off-track people.
What about us? Are our whole lives revolving around the church—Christian service, Christian people—such that we just barely have contact with spiritually needy people anymore? If so, that’s trouble.
Some of us have a layer of dust over your soul about an inch deep, and you say, “I can’t seem to get it off. What’s the matter with me?” You just need to strike up a relationship with a spiritually mixed-up person and start spending some time hanging out with them, and praying for them, and starting spiritual conversations with them so you see what God might do. Some of you just need to throw a party like Matthew’s—to stir things up a little bit!
The kingdom of God is only going to advance through the evangelistic efforts of people like you and me. We have to strike a balance in our lives between contact with Christians and contact with non-believers. Without a proper balance of contact with believers and unbelievers, it’s only a matter of time until our hearts start growing cold toward people outside of God’s family.
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