“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” – 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
“And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’ “ – Like 19:5-8
“As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he rose and followed him. And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ But when he heard it, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’ “ – Matthew 9:9-13
When Christians discuss Jesus and His life and ministry, so many want to focus on His parables or on the conversations He had with the disciples. However, only focusing on that stuff, as wonderful and beneficial as it is, neglects another very worthwhile portion of Jesus’ ministry: Jesus hung out with sinners! And no, not just in the “we are all sinners” way, but Jesus actually spent large amounts of time with the greedy, loose, drunken, and morally corrupt! He spoke at a well with a serial divorcee who was living in fornication with her current partner (John 4). He called a money-grubbing tax collector out from the collection tables to follow Him as a disciple (Matthew 9). He allowed a sinful woman to approach Him and wash His feet as He ate with a Pharisee (Luke 7). In short, Jesus didn’t shy away from sinners, but instead He embraced them and loved on them, and through this loving, He was able to effectually rebuke them and bring them to a saving faith (Luke 7:50).
So then, why as Christians today are we so afraid of the world? Why are we so afraid to go to the movie theaters or to be seen in places where *gasp* people drink alcohol? Why have we adopted the attitude of the Pharisee who says, “Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!”?
To follow Christ is to be revolutionary in our public behavior. First, we are to be revolutionary to the lifestyle of religious people. As a true follower we must fight against the mindset which says we have to sit at home on Sundays or homeschool our children. For we see that Jesus healed on the Sabbath (“it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath“, Luke 9:12), and that Daniel accepted the schooling of the Babylonians, more opposed to God than any present-day public school, without religious conflict (Daniel 1). Jesus even makes a point to tell the religious people that “the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you” (Matthew 21:31), because the sinners, though sinful, have realized their need for a savior and repented to follow, but the religious people in their piety are unable to accept Christ as Lord.
Second, we must be revolutionary to the lifestyle of the world. Though Jesus ate with the sinners, socialized with the prostitutes, and partied with the drunkards, He did not partake in their sinful lifestyles (Hebrews 4:15, 1 Peter 2:22). Moreover, Jesus, in His righteousness, was able to call these people out of their sin and into eternal life (Luke 8, John 4). In such a manner, we too are led. As quoted above, the apostle Paul makes it clear that we should use our freedom as Christians to better acquaint ourselves with unbelievers so that through our efforts some may be saved. Don’t get me wrong, if a brother struggles with alcohol, he shouldn’t minister in a bar. However, if a man is able to do so with a clear conscience, then a bar would be a great place to make friends with unbelievers. We must be revolutionary in our behavior, not acting like every fool with an STD and a lampshade on our head, but as a joyous, sanctified creature, fully intoxicated on the glory of Jesus Christ and longing to peer pressure non-believers into trying some too.
Christ was a revolutionary in His public and social life. His conscience was clear and His purpose was sure. He longed to meet sinners where they were and call them to repentance through a relationship with Himself, and He could not have cared less what the legalistic religious people said.