‘Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering round to hear Jesus.’ Luke 15.1
Even sinners gathered round to listen to Jesus. I wonder why they came to listen to him? Presumably it wasn’t because he kept telling them they were sinners and needed to repent – after all, so many other people told them that. They wouldn't have flocked to Jesus to hear the same message yet again! There must have been something in his message that was life-giving and not condemning.
There are challenges in this for us. The first is how we judge others. It is so easy to look at people and judge what we regard as sin in their lives. This can become the most visible thing in their lives as far as we are concerned, but it is not what God sees when he looks at them. A good prayer for us is that God would open our eyes to see people through his eyes of love, rather than what might well be our eyes of judgment.
The second challenge is about how we see ourselves. If we are prone to judging others, it is likely that we are equally harsh on ourselves - assuming that when God sees us, the main thing he wants to talk about is our sin. Perhaps it isn't! Perhaps he longs to meet with us, not to condemn us or make us feel any worse than we already do, but to encourage us and lift us out of the pits we may be in.
Jesus is right here with us so let him draw near to us right now, and as we listen to his voice, either through the Bible or by being still before him, let's expect his words of love, not judgment.
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The Revd John Ryeland, Director of The Christian Healing Mission