The reason why the Bible is such an amazing thing is because there’s always something new in it to captivate you. With a simple sentence you’ve read over a hundred times, the Bible can one day give you pause and send you down a path of study, reflection, and insight. Today I want to take a look at one such sentence.
Luke 15:1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach.
I’ve read that several times before and it never stood out to me, but this time a huge question jumped into my spirit as I read it. Why? Tax collectors were highly reviled and not at all good people back then. And then you have notorious sinners. Why would these two groups of people often come to listen to Jesus teach? These are the types of people who normally run the other way when they see a religious gathering or a church service, so what was it about Jesus’ teaching that drew them in?
It’s interesting to dig into this and see that the answer to the question is the same today as it was back then. Jesus spoke love and hope, whereas the established religious leaders of the day spoke condemnation and rules. But, I think it’s really important to point out that Jesus’ message could still be pretty firm. The modern world likes to portray Jesus as a long-haired dude who just wants us all to love one another and do what makes us happy without hurting others. That’s not a true portrayal of Jesus’ character. Jesus was never shy about pointing out to people the fact that they weren’t living correctly and they needed to get it corrected. The difference between his teaching and the other teaching was that Jesus’ was motivated by love. He wants me to stop sinning because it’s killing my spirit, often times it kills our mind and even our bodies. It brings us out of synch with God, and there’s nothing more beautiful than being in synch with God. He didn’t want offerings, power, or control, he wants to help us get in proper alignment so we can experience all the amazing things we were created to experience.
I believe that the reason why Jesus’ teaching drew in tax collectors and notorious sinners is because of the motivation behind the teaching. I’ve been corrected by a boss at work who hates his job and could care less about the company and I’ve been corrected by a dear brother at church who loves me and cares about me. Guess which one of those went better. My boss at that job didn’t care about me, and he didn’t correct me for my own good, he did it because it helped the bottom line of the company out. My dear brother, on the other hand, had no motivation other than my wellbeing.
John 8:12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
The religious leaders of the day may have used the word God, but they weren’t spreading a truly Godly message with a truly Godly motivation. They were just more darkness, just like false teachers have always been and will always be, just like the tax collectors and notorious sinners were used to seeing. But Jesus was a light. And light in darkness demands to become a focal point. You are drawn toward it instinctually, it takes concerted effort to deny the draw of light when you are in a dark place.
The question today’s verse left me with is how can we as the modern people of God make sure that we’re the type of teachers who draw people to us, saved and unsaved, saint and sinner. What can I do to position myself in a manner where I draw in those who are desperately and hopelessly lost? The answer is in the motivation. Why are we speaking out about Jesus? Do we want our church friends to think we’re cool? Do we want God to see us doing it so He’ll deem us worthy of getting into heaven? (that’s not how you get into heaven, just in case you weren’t sure) Or are we doing it because we love people and we want them to come to know the beauty that is a relationship with God? That’s the motivation that will draw people in and open their eyes and ears to hear what you have to say.
The world knows one thing better than any other, and that’s darkness. They will hear a beautiful message that’s not spoken in love and know it for what it is, just more darkness. And they’ve got enough of that, more darkness will not move their feet. But light will. A loving motivation will give us the success that Jesus had and help us carry out his beautiful plan for each of our lives, to tell the world about him and help bring them into a relationship with him.
Alright dear friends, that’s it for today. I love all of you very much and I hope the week is off to a great start for you. It’s Tuesday, the week is starting to take shape, and I’m excited to see where things lead. I know this for sure, life’s never boring when you walk with God.
If you have any prayer needs or would just like someone to talk to, my email is always open to you at firstname.lastname@example.org