I remember from a young age going to Michigan to visit my cousins. My favorite cousin was Michael. We are about the same age, and enjoyed playing games growing up. We always had so much fun together. We would laugh for hours on end. I don’t even know what we laughed about now. We just had fun.
I cried every time we had to leave. The longer we visited the harder it was to leave. I never understood why I couldn’t live near my favorite cousin. I was only comforted by the fact that when we saw each other again we could always pick up where we left off. It was as if we had never been apart.
We then went through those growing up years. Our 20’s. He went off to college, and I went to the Navy. After the Navy I got married, and had four children. He started a career and moved to a big city. We barely saw each other during our 20’s, and rarely in our 30’s. We were maturing, and figuring life out. Sometimes life just gets in the way and we make things a priority that shouldn’t be.
I guess we all knew for a long time. My family doesn’t openly discuss things so it was only mentioned in hush tones. I think he kept it quiet for grandma’s sake. He was close to her. After she passed we saw pictures of him and his male friend. So what we thought was confirmed. For some reason it didn’t shock me. Maybe it should have. Maybe its the times we live in or the fact that I never thought he had a close relationship with God.
The thing is I still love Michael and always will. I was able to spend a day with him recently. Where I met his friend, and got to see a part of his life. As I looked at my dear cousin I couldn’t imagine doing anything but loving him. I can’t fathom someone saying they wouldn’t bake for him, help him, or befriend him. He’s Michael. He is like a brother to me.
Why Christian do we not know how to love those who are living against God’s commands? Why would we pick one type of sinner to ostracize over another? You never ostracized me when I drank myself to oblivion, snorted meth, or slept with strangers. Is it because I looked better somehow? Is it because those sins are more accepted? Perhaps you did ostracize me, but I was just too self-focused to notice.
When I left Michael and his friend they invited me back. Let’s get together again and have more fun. Which for us was eating yogurt and shopping for furniture. Yes I said let’s do, I look forward to it.
Do you remember the story of Jesus making wine for the wedding party? Do you think everyone in the wedding party was a follower of Christ? Do you think there was a chance that as Jesus surveyed the room He knew of the sins that people were committing? Even though He knew their hearts did He make the wine anyway? Did He provide for a physical need, and provide nourishment for this special event?
Jesus was among sinners. Stop. Breath. Breath again. Jesus was among sinners. He fed them actual food, and He made wine for them to drink. He didn’t walk the opposite way of sinners, He walked among them. Not only did He walk, He died for them.
When Jesus made wine for the wedding party, many of whom were probably living in some sort of sin, did making that wine signify His acceptance of their sin? No. We know that. It demonstrates His amazing love and mercy. Instead of condemnation He demonstrated love. He will judge those in sin on that last day, but when He was here He didn’t stay locked up in the temple. He was among mankind.
I spent seven years in a ministry where I counseled, mentored, loved, and prayed for the unchurched everyday. A sinner like me was given the opportunity to love others. What an amazing privilege. In order to be able to speak into their lives I had to first connect with them where they were. I had to befriend them, and sometimes the ministry provided for their temporal needs.
We can’t be the light or the salt unless we are connected with people. It’s about making connections. It’s about being in peoples lives. When we were sinners, Christ died for us. When we were sinners, Christ died for us. When we were sinners, Christ died for us.
So then cannot we not befriend and love others when they are in sin. Christ says love them. Reach out to them just as I did to you. Remember Marcy, when you woke up in a strangers bed, hung over, and looking for your next line of meth? Yes Lord. I loved you then, and had already died for you. When I died for you I didn’t approve of your lifestyle, but I did it anyway, can you not do the same for others?