The world back then (and sadly still now) admired and looked up to the rich, beautiful and famous people who were fattened with success. But, if you notice, Jesus didn’t “hang” with those types. He served and ministered to the poor and the persecuted…the ones the pagan world left in the dust. I’m not indicating here that the rich should be shunned; I’m just saying that Jesus’ principle was to help those who were in need. It is the physical word picture of the spiritual condition…He came to save those in spiritual need…lost in sin, which was the resultant human condition after Adam’s disobedience.
God’s grace doesn’t leave anyone behind…rich or poor; it changed all that and it should change us. In the beginning of the Christian world, it did. The first few centuries of the early church mirrored Jesus’ example and they ministered to those in prison, paying their debts to release them. They fed the poor, clothed the naked and tended to the sick. Back then, there weren’t any fancy hospitals and the sick and infirm were often just lying around on the streets. The early Christians would actually take them into their homes or pay someone to tend to their needs. This all worked really well until good old Constantine’s edict. In a well-meaning but misguided move, he “mandated” Christianity as the official religion of his empire. Hm-it’s been downhill ever since!
It seems to me that a lot of the “church” has left the poor to be taken care of by government social programs and civic organizations. All the while, many mega-churches, even though surrounded by areas dealing with poverty, addictions, broken families, low employment and educational opportunities, sit basking in wealth and political power. Oh, they may throw some money at the issues, but never dirty their hands with the actual people and their miserable lives.
I am not holding up our church in any self-adulation, but I consider us blessed to humbly serve the disenfranchised that God often brings our way. It is sad that some of our attenders couldn’t even get in the door of larger churches based on their odd demeanor or dress, and the odors that emanate from them. If we all serve Jesus and are supposed to emulate His ways and have His grace flow through us…then how has this happened?
Jesus was surrounded by sinners and the disenfranchised, while the rich intellectuals and “religious” leaders stood at a distance trying to discredit Him. Some were even plotting His death.
What kind of a Christian are you? A wealthy by-stander paying peons to do the “dirty work” of serving the less fortunate? Or a radical like Jesus who let the Father’s love and grace pour forth from Him to those who were genuinely shocked but grateful for His care when no one else would.
Are you too holy to get your hands soiled? Don’t be like what may be around you. Shake off the shackles of legalism and let God’s love take its place. Doing it Jesus’ way there would be no “welfare state”. There would be hard working people providing for their own families and there would be loving people helping the unfortunate who couldn’t work. The reprimand would go to those who could work but won’t. Sounds like that elusive Utopia we all seek, but possible only in Christ. It’s a long, hard journey. Keep going! Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!