Today I want to talk about Jesus. To be specific, I want to talk about how Jesus views sinners. This topic has been heavy on my mind of late. My personal reading time has revolved around Bell's Love Wins and Francis Chan's Erasing Hell, which has forced me to really explore the concept of Jesus and sin. Also, this weekend my youth ministry is hosting a huge retreat that will deal with this topic as well. Needless to say, Jesus is on my mind.
How does Jesus view sinners? This is a complicated but incredibly important question. Now, the obvious answer is "Jesus loves sinners." Sure, of course He does. But do we really believe that? Do we really communicate that as His church?
I have a confession to make. I have spent many years in ministry being a bully. From stages and in small groups I have tried to show students the error of their ways. I have lead out of fear instead of faith. I have shown students all the verses about morality, sexual purity and right living while dropping in the obligatory "Jesus loves you" to make things balanced. The problem is, I have been communicating a common fallacy. I have revealed a Jesus that is angry abotu sin and sinners and checks His naughty and nice list more often than Santa.
Take a minute and watch this video
. I think it is a rather amusing look at how Jesus is portrayed by many Christians.
Does this portrayal of Jesus sound familiar? Yes, it is incredibly over-the-top, but my experience in youth ministry has led me to believe this is the perception many un-churched students are receiving from the church. This quote from the video is sadly similar to what I have heard teenagers recount to me when telling me their perception of Jesus:
"Listen to what I have to say. I have done many wonderful things. I have healed many people of diseases. I have performed many miracles so I can tell you this. You're all evil. There is no hope. That's it. Thank you."
The well-trained Christian in us wants to jump up screaming, That's not
what we believe!!! This is true, but is this what we communicate? We talk about the world in negative terms. We talk about sinners as if they are someone other than us, someone who is somehow less than us. We are, after all, Christians with official church memberships to prove it.
Let's look at what the Bible actually says about how Jesus views sinners.John 3:16
: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son...Romans 5:8
: but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Jesus looks at the filthiest of sinner and says, "You are someone worth dying for. You were worth leaving heaven for."
• That student in your ministry that is sleeping with his girlfriend
• That student who is doing drugs
• That girl who is dressing so inappropriately
• That junior higher who won't stop acting out
• That parent who is constantly talking bad about you behind your back
• That pastor who treats you so poorly
The list can go on and on. What do all these people have in common? They are all worthy dying for. That is how Jesus views sinners. That is how Jesus views us.
This is not, of course, the entire story. Jesus does care about sin, morality and righteousness; but these things never come at the expense of His love. That is eternal, universal, awesome and epic. Let us focus on revealing Christ's love to everyone. Let His love be the loudest and clearest thing that we say. Maybe then the unchurched students will see the real Jesus.