Jesus had some bad habits.
I’m sure he didn’t brush his teeth every day. And he was pretty bad at giving people direct answers to their questions. He was known to have bad table manners when he went to the temple, and he was friends with all the wrong people.
Of course, you already know that. You know that Jesus hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors and all sorts of other seedy characters. They were the “wrong” people to be hanging out with. We romanticize this idea—how welcoming and kind Jesus was to everyone, to all the outcasts …
And then we make sure we do the opposite. I’ve been thinking a lot about who are the “wrong” people for us to hang out with, the “wrong” sins to forgive. The conclusion I came to surprised me.
Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner
It’s funny how that’s such an oft-quoted Bible verse for being nowhere in the Bible. There were all kinds of comments about how, as Christians, we should never excuse, condone, approve or celebrate sin. We have to make it clear whose behavior we don’t approve of (as if we’re in danger of that). Trust me, the church’s message on homosexuality is like milk commercials … everyone knows about milk.
Why did the Pharisees get their undies in such a bunch about Jesus eating with sinners?
Could it be because they assumed that Jesus approved of their behavior?
Could it be that Jesus’ priority was people, rather than preserving his holier-than-thou image? Could it be that Jesus was okay with people assuming that he approved of the sins of prostitutes and tax collectors?
Love the Loopholes
When Jesus said, “Love your neighbor,” the religious people glibly asked, “Well who is my neighbor?” When they asked Jesus if they should forgive their brother seven times, Jesus multiplied their math by 70. And for 2000 years, we’ve been trying to find similar loopholes.
See, we’re fine with loving our neighbor. We just define, very specifically, who our neighbors are.