In Matthew 5:46, JESUS said, “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?”
JESUS Himself ate and dined, consorted even, with tax collectors, a prostitute, cowards, uneducated fishermen, the very rich, the poor and needy, the sick in body and weak in faith…JESUS had no set personal preference--He didn’t play favorites or join cliques…He came to save the lost and poor in spirit…He championed the orphans and widows. He loved the unlovables.
A true CHRISTian is not like the rest of the world...s/he is different. There’s a decided difference...nonconformity to worldly standards, worldly activities, worldly ways. The true CHRISTian goes beyond what others would do...s/he would go that extra mile, carry those “band-aids” to minister to those who’ve stumbled and blooded up a knee, bring “chicken soup” for someone’s aching soul. Truly devoted followers of CHRIST do not shy away from getting a little dirty in the process of helping someone who’s trying to get out of a muddy pit.
Sometimes, it feels uncomfortable befriending people who’s not like us...they are culturally different or just not our type of people--we don’t have much in common with them. Yet as CHRISTians, it’s our job to get out of our comfort zones and go beyond what’s expected, to go that extra mile...for JESUS’ sake.
In the church, we are to put into practice what CHRIST taught: that we are all part of the family of GOD...though we are different members, we belong to one body--His. No member is more important than another--the foot is not more or less important than the eye or the hand. We all have different functions, yet each part acts in concert with the whole that the body may be nourished in harmony. We are all different, but not separate, for the same blood flows through all members--the blood of JESUS.
If the foot stubs its toe, wouldn’t the rest of the body be affected with an “ouch!” and wouldn’t the body attend to that little stubbed toe by giving it attention, a band-aid if necessary, or a rub to assuage the pain? Or if the stomach got that empty feeling and was hungering for bread, wouldn’t the hand cooperate and put food in the mouth so that the stomach may be satisfied?
It’s sad but true--there are cliques in most churches...we hang out with whom we have similar tastes, backgrounds and hobbies. We fellowship with those we are most comfortable. We create sub-families within the church family. It’s the norm...but is it the Way of JESUS? It’s easy, but did JESUS promise ease on earth? It’s comfortable and satisfying, doing our chosen good works, but where does CHRIST fit in these good works?
CHRIST JESUS, during His ministry, chose to be homeless. (Matthew 8:20) (Actually, JESUS' true home was always with the Father, in His heavenly Kingdom.) He didn’t have a 9-5 job with the corresponding income, had dusty feet from all that walking, didn’t have designer jeans or a bulging money belt or an i-pod or Blackberry.
If you and i saw a bedraggled JESUS at a 7-11, thirsting for a Big Gulp, would we buy Him one? If we saw Him standing at the corner of Palm Avenue and Saturn Boulevard with a megaphone, saying “Repent--the time is NOW!”--would we stop and listen, or mumble under our breaths, “uh oh, not another one of those eccentric eclectics!”
If you and i saw a worn out, sweaty, disheveled JESUS at our front doorstep, would you or i invite Him in and offer Him a drink?
Will you or i even recognize Him?