geezeronthequad: Can a Christian Ever Hang With the Wrong Crowd? Luke 15:1-7
Jesus might get asked to do a graduation commencement address if He was around today – but only once. A number of high-profile speakers this spring either withdrew their their acceptance or were cancelled. Why? Because a vocal (often small) group of students protested or threatened to protest graduation ceremonies if the speaker appeared. The rationale ran like this: “If you’ve done anything remotely close to something I even merely disagree with (whether I know what I’m talking about or not), I’m going to wave ugly signs and scream at the ceremony. Graduates pretty much want a short, if not cool, address and a quick diploma handoff. Parents of same don’t want a lifetime moment ruined by loud “Sixties” wannabe posers. Yesterday marked the thirty-sixth anniversary (June 8, 1978) of Alexander Solzhenitsyn‘s speech at Harvard. They wanted this hip, cool speaker to prove how hip, cool, relevant and with it they were. And he toasted their frogs.
Jesus tells this sheep story and the two after it to cause as much offense as He can. And when a Guy who can walk on water and feed five thousand people with a few crumbs puts His spiritual muscle to ticking someone off, He can fire a pumpkin up their nose (to go along with the two or three already there) from ten miles away. Jesus drew flies (disgusting folks like the traitorous tax collectors and prostitutes, sin wasted people). People nobody would touch drew near and that says something about the One doing the drawing. These folk clumped together because nobody would have them – talk to them, touch them, treat them with human regard or respect. So they hung together to avoid loneliness and rejection mutually feeding all the things killing them. But He drew them. “They were all gathering around to hear him” (v.1) Some people didn’t like it, said He was with the wrong kind of people. So He told them the sheep story.
Suppose one of them had a hundred sheep and lost one. Some of these Pharisees may have owned two or three hundred sheep but wouldn’t know if they lost fifty because they hired shepherds to run the show. One sheep gone? Collateral damage, a tax write off, the price of doing business. Sheep were dumb anyway and shepherds who watched them were almost as dumb, one step above beggars. The way the Bible repeatedly describes both the God of Israel and Jesus as shepherds really frosted the Pharisees’ donuts; shepherds lived in almost a constant state of ritual uncleanness – fluids, manure and stuff. So one is gone, the shepherd finds it and comes back wanting everyone to join him in the Big Happy Dance. Jesus says that heaven does the Big Happy Dance when one of the “flies”, a smelly dumb sheep gets dragged and carried to safety of the love of God. Much more so than over ninety-nine so tight that they get up in the morning and screw their pants legs on one at a time thinking they’re okay with God so there’s no need to repent.
A question: Can a Christian ever be with the wrong crowd? Yes. We can deceive ourselves as to how much Christian influence we’re actually having over others around us when we expose ourselves in risky situations. “Do not be deceived: bad company corrupts good morals.” (I Cor 15:33) We’re to flee temptation – not wallow in, flirt with or be callous to it. If we keep kissing cobras, nothing good can come of that. That said, it comes down to love. When we really love someone, what matters most to them becomes pretty important to us. Jesus Christ is drop-dead, die-on-the-cross, go-through-hell, rise-from-the-dead, eat-Ramen-noodles-with-“flies”-and-other-icky-people-nobody-will-eat-with in love with sin broken people. People in love with Jesus love who He loves. Jesus seems to be thoroughly enjoying Himself every time we see Him with the party crowd. More in the near future on that. This summer may find us around people who push us to the wall. Abrasive obnoxious types (But enough about me!). Disrespecting and/or insulting our faith. People of musty spiritual dryness. Maybe those who exhale evil. Jesus sees beneath all that garbage to something magnificent and want to share His eyes and heart for them with you. When that happens, He honors us in that not many care about the deepest things of His heart.
And maybe we have Christians around us this summer, a few or maybe more. One campus ministry near me runs full-bore through the summer. How can we be with the wrong crowd being knit together in prayer and Scripture slugging our way through the summer? God bless Facebook but get all the face time with believers we can.
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Please return your seat to the upright position and give your infrared night vision mask to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next post at geezeronthequad.com.