(sorry it's so long, but here's the conclusion)
7. The Conclusion/So What?
You see my friends; Jesus went to where he was needed most. He came to call those who needed his help, not those who were happy to stand in line at the movies and ridicule middle schoolers who don’t know any better. You see those girls are EXACTLY the ones that need to be shown you don’t have to show off your body to be accepted. Those girls need to hear they have worth beyond what they wear, and that they are not defined by how much attention boys pay them. What’s more, those girls need to be not only TOLD but SHOWN they need to EXPERIENCE the love of Christ, simply for being them. Those girls need to hear and be exposed to those things within the context of love, not judgment, out of mercy, not under stiff religion. The Pharisees mistake was they depended on their legalism to save them. Outwardly, they were righteous. Inwardly, they were sick, but did not know it. As followers of Christ, I pray that we can keep from falling victim to the same thing.
The people hardest for us to love are often the ones who need it the most. It’s easy for me to love well behaved, appropriately dressed, mature youth here at this church, as almost all of them are. THAT’S EASY. But what about the rude and obnoxious youth? What about the ones who dress like they’re going out to the club? WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE OUTSIDE OF THIS CHURCH? What compassion do I have in me if I don’t show it to them? Do I really love Jesus and love his people, if I’m only loving towards “the nice ones”, only compassionate to the ones who “go to church”, and judge everyone else? Jesus spoke about this too, earlier in Matthew’s gospel in chapter 5 verses 46 & 47 he says: “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles (the people of the land) do the same?” In my own words, LOVING THOSE WHO ARE EASY TO LOVE IS NO BIG DEAL.
Sometimes the most “religious” people can be some of the biggest jerks. In keeping our rules, they can quickly become chains if not they don’t start with compassion. The call of Christ to the sinner means for those who follow him it will be hard. But we can forget that we too, are sinners. We too, are sick. Too often we can be quick to diagnose others. Because in our minds we have a list don’t we? A list of behaviors that “Christian people” or “good people” just don’t do. A catalog of sins we don’t do that allows us to shame others if they do. Once again, isn’t the sin of pride a sin just the same?
Christ went to where he was needed, and this was shocking to the religious authorities at the time. Jesus enjoyed the company of “tax-collectors and sinners” (verse 10). Stop and think about this. What would you think if you saw McIntyre’s Honda Civic outside of a bar? How would you react if saw your youth pastor hanging out in the Steak N’ Shake parking lot at 1 in the morning? You would probably think, oh snap, or at least that would be cool if you could add that to your vocabulary. If you saw those things I’ll bet you would be shocked. The Gospel is shocking my friends. The love of Christ is not what we expect more often than not, because it’s hard, and it’s counterintuitive to us. Much like the Pharisees we can quickly evolve into “holy huddles”, insulated “churchy people” who sneer and point fingers at people who don’t do some things we do and DO do some things we don’t do. By that I mean, we can scoff and be dismissive of people “don’t go to church” or “don’t read the bible” or “don’t know Jesus”, or people that “do drugs” or “do have sex” or “do have tattoos” or “do go to bars” or do or don’t do whatever other lists we want to make. But now we’re already read handed, because we’ve separated us from them, we are we and they are they. We are healthy, they are sick. We are righteous, they are sinners. Let us go once again to verses 12 & 13: Jesus said “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick…For I have come to call not the righteous but the sinners.”
My friends the love of Christ calls us to love those who aren’t easy or convenient to love, because that’s how God loves us. When we lose sight of that, we might as well break out the Pharisee costumes so we can dress the part too, and at least people can see us comin. The love of Christ goes to those who need it the most, often hardest for the religious folks to love. The church is the only organization on the planet that exists EXCLUSIVELY for those that aren’t a part of it. Let me say that again: The church is the only organization on the planet that exists EXCLUSIVELY for those that aren’t a part of it. Let’s not forget that. Let’s not forget that we are a hospital for sinners, of which I am the first one. Let’s not forget that Jesus came not for the righteous but for the sinner. That Jesus is like a doctor, who has come to heal the sick, not tend to “they that be whole”.
I had to choose a title for this sermon, and sermon titles often have an element to cheesiness to them, so I fittingly chose a cheesy Ronald Palmer song from the 80’s. Doctor Doctor, Gimme the News:
The bad news is, we’re all sick. The good news is, Jesus came to heal the sick. The good news is, we can know the remedy. Jesus Christ, the good physician will heal us and help us to heal others if we only admit we’re sick and let him do his work. It’s hard, long, painful road to recovery. The diagnosis is not up to us, I’ve tried to spend a lot of time showing how that is a bad, bad, bad thing. Someone can only know they’re sick when they experience the love of another who shares their illness. The call of Christ demands that we go and help heal the sick as we ourselves are being healed through him who ate with tax-collectors and sinners, he who looked upon people not with judgment but with compassion. My friends, the people hardest to love need it the most. The people hardest for us to love is whom Jesus calls us to love. The people hardest to love are people just like you and me, in fact, they ARE you and me. Let us not be puffed up in our churchy clothes, our churchy music, our churchy programs, our churchy words- none of these bad things in and of themselves- but let us seek out the sick as love them as Jesus did, not shake our heads at the sinners as the Pharisees did. Amen.