We tend to hang around people who are like us and avoid those who aren't. Even within our groups we are choosey. We'll spend time with an individual doing something about which we both agree and then politely ignore one another when we disagree on a certain issue. It's a very human thing to do. But you know, the human thing isn't always the best thing, even if it is something everyone does.
When it comes to hanging around with people, we find that Jesus isn't choosey at all. In fact, when he walked this earth he spent a whole lot of time with people who hated him so much they eventually killed him. He had dinner in the homes of people with whom he had little in common and performed miracles for strangers. Jesus hung around with such different types of people that the "with it" folks of his day thought his social networking needed a total overhaul. But Jesus didn't give in to their demands. He remained firm, hanging out with whomever would hang out with him.
This Sunday (February 20 at 10:00 am) we're going to study the account of how Jesus called a tax collector named Matthew to follow him. Now you have to understand, Jesus was called "Rabbi" by his followers. He taught them about God. Actually, he taught them he is God! On the other hand, Matthew was considered a moral low life because he worked for the Romans by collecting taxes from his fellow Jews. Everybody else treated Matthew like a leper and along comes Jesus calling him to be one of his trusted companions! This story tells us a lot about how Jesus looks at people. To him, everyone is a potential follower. Everyone can come to put their trust in him.
As we consider who we hang out with, and more importantly, who we as Christians reach out to with the Gospel of Christ, we need to reexamine our attitudes. Are we judging people before we even begin to try to share our faith with them? Do we look at some people and think, "There is just no way they'll ever believe"? Or are we convinced that Christ paid for their sins just as fully as he paid for ours?
God has brought all sorts of people into our lives. His intent is that we are to be a blessing to them and they a blessing to us. Regardless of what you may think their beliefs are, keep reminding yourself that God loves the Matthews in your life as much as he loves you, and they need to know that.