What Sharing God’s Truth and Love Means to Me
“And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners,’” Mark 2:15-17
A few years ago, I had a friend in college who had no religious affiliation, and whose lifestyle was far removed from Biblical principles. She knew that I am a Christian, and after a few months of getting to know each other, she said something I never forgot: “To be honest, I was nervous when I found out that you were a Christian. I thought you were going to be super judgmental.”
She went on to say that she knew what my convictions were, but she also knew that I loved her. It struck me that she was completely surprised that a Christian would know her and still love her. Similarly, a different fellow student shared with me about another Christian she knew. This woman was honest and firm in her Biblical convictions when relating to my friend, but my friend knew that she was loved unconditionally in spite of her own lifestyle. Because she felt loved and safe, she kept spending time with her, and eventually opened up to praying and going to church with her. That kind of love is rare, but it should be the norm.
Some people think that the only way to interact with unbelievers is to ignore them or constantly tell them they are sinners. Many people outside of the Church feel judged and unwelcome. This causes people to think that it is God rejecting them, and that can be a factor in leading them to close their hearts to Him. In school, we can often feel an awkward tension between desiring to not compromise our Christian convictions and demonstrating the love of Christ. However, there should be no contradiction. Jesus ate with sinners, spent time with them, and loved them. They were drawn to Him. No one was more faithful to the truth than Jesus Christ, yet no one was as tender. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. Broken people do not respond to aggression and hostility; they respond to tenderness. At the same time, telling someone that they are fine in their sin is doing them a disservice. We are to lovingly point people to Jesus, who can free them from their sin and heal their brokenness. When people experience the love of Jesus, they desire to turn away from what displeases him and are empowered to do so. That is how true transformation occurs.