by Kathy Lay
This Week's Verse: Mark 2:16, "But when some of the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with people like that, they said to his disciples, "Why does he eat with such scum?'"(NLT, emphasis mine).
People like that. You know, those people.
Who exactly are we talking about? Well, any classification of people we've labeled in some way and rolled our eyes about when we refer to them as those people. Tax collectors back then and politicians today, sinners of all kinds--perverts, abusers, addicts, snobs, liars, you name it--we've got a label for just about everyone.
In the above passage, Jesus was being condemned by the Pharisees for hanging out with "such scum." Can't you just hear the haughtiness in their accusations and see them sneering down their noses?
Check out how the Message puts it: "Later Jesus and his disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples: "What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the riffraff?'"(Mark:15-16)
The riffraff? Um hmm. And this is when Jesus zings them with his awesome reply that the healthy don't need a doctor, but the sick do. In fact, he says, "I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough." (v. 17, NLT).
See, that's the thing. You've heard the saying about three fingers pointing back at you when you point at someone else (you know, people like that) and you're familiar with the verse about calling attention to the speck in someone else's eye while ignoring the plank in your own (Matt. 7:3). Any time we imply our superiority because we're fixated on someone else's issues, we're judging.
Jesus makes it pretty clear that those who think they're already good enough will miss out on his fellowship. And I would MUCH rather be at the table with the Lord and the riffraff than with those finger-pointing Pharisees.
I'm not saying it's easy, by any means. I actually think the command to love one another is the primary commandment--along with loving God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength--BECAUSE it's the hardest thing to do. It goes against our flesh.
But when we go from snooty acknowledgement of "those people" to introducing them to Jesus, they cease to be "one of those" and become "one of us." And that's what Jesus was all about.
Lord, help us to see others with your eyes. Reshape our hearts so they don't condemn but accept. And love. Help us to see the people behind the sin and love them out of it.
Application: Identify folks you've referred to as "people like that" or "those people". Have you ever later gotten to know and even like someone you used to stereotype and judge? Resolve to get to know at least one "of those people" and try to see them with Jesus' eyes.
Romans 2:1-2, "Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors. But God isn't so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you've done."(MSG)
1 Corinthians 5:9-11, "When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people."(NLT)