Choosing Your Friends
Lord, what great love You’ve lavished on me that I should be called Your child, and yet I am (see 1 John 3:1).
Read Mark 2:13-17
 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them.  As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.  While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.  When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”  On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat was Jesus’ message to the Pharisees?
Jesus’ choice of associates was at odds with every instinct of the religious leaders of his day. The Pharisees concentrated so hard on keeping every detail of the Law that they chose not to associate with people who could make them unclean—which boiled down to just about anyone who wasn’t one of them.
Jesus had no such qualms. He’d already selected as his followers four ordinary working men without a single theological qualification between them. Now he went one step further and chose Levi, who as a tax collector was one of the most unpopular men in his community. The explanation Jesus gave to the Pharisees indicated the focus and the urgency of his mission: sin, like disease, is fatal if left untreated. Jesus’ priority was to do God’s work of saving humankind from the deep sin-sickness of our souls.
How much do we follow Jesus’ example? Do we concentrate our love—and the amount of time we spend—on unpopular, difficult people and those from outside the church who really need to hear the good news? Or are we so busy with our Christian friends that no one else can get our attention?
What proportion of your social time do you spend with Christians? Ask God to show you if the balance needs adjusting.
Loving Lord, I pray for a heart to love everyone—especially the unpopular and difficult people that You love.
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