Advocate

Who’s Included Or Excluded In Your Life?

Countless mats and signs proclaim the word welcome at the doors of homes. Likewise, many notices clarify that you should stay away or keep out as you are not wanted. Who is welcome to share your life, and who do you reject as unworthy in that you want nothing to do with them?

We have our reasons for who is welcome to share in our lives and who we reject and avoid. Some see rejecting their enemies as the right thing to do. Their enemies shouldn’t get another chance to hurt them again. It seems like common sense, but Jesus said instead, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

Jesus champions undeserved love, giving others what they don’t deserve but need. He said that we need to act like our Father in heaven, for He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. What reward is there for loving those who love you? The challenge is to love our enemies. Jesus was willing to do that entirely by sacrificing his life for those who saw him as their enemy.

In his life on earth, Jesus was a champion of sinners. He acted as the good Shepherd of God. Jesus saw all people as sinners despite how some were labeled as righteous and others as the worst of sinners. Jesus invited everyone to repent in humility before God and to treasure God’s forgiveness and acceptance as a gift to them.

Have you ever considered who are the folks you champion, uphold, support, and promote in your life? Who are the people you criticize, oppose, reject and refuse to give another chance? His enemies opposed Jesus for welcoming sinners and eating with them. The Pharisees and teachers of the law wanted nothing to do with those labeled as the worst of sinners. They were about keeping people as either friends or enemies, as people to include or exclude, as either righteous or wicked. Those who grumbled about Jesus associating with sinners had no regard for those they called sinners, as they did not see them as lost sheep needing rescuing.

Jesus invited his critics to think about one of them being a shepherd who needs to search for a lost sheep even if he has 99 sheep safe in his care. The shepherd must find the one lost sheep in his flock of 100 and bring it back to his fold. Dead or alive, the shepherd must account for the lost sheep. With joy, the searching shepherd finds his lost sheep alive, and he carries it home. There he rejoices with friends and neighbors over the rescue of his sheep. Jesus then emphasizes that in heaven, there is more rejoicing over one sinner who repents than over the 99 righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:1-7)

People wander away from God and get broken and wounded by sin and need a search and rescue mission. They may not know they are lost, but Jesus knows. So, he uses us to share how Jesus loves and invites sinners to come to Him, for Jesus gives us His righteousness as we repent. All of us, as sinners need to repent.

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