Emmanuel

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Why do you eat and drink with sinners?

Calling_of_Levi_1This is a crucial question and for each occasion I am sure we can provide a different answer.  However, the ultimate or final answer to the chain of possibilities lies in the fact that when we walk into a place filled with sinners, we walk in with Jesus.  Since He has been there and done this, He can guide us and give us wisdom on how we can conduct ourselves no matter what we are faced with.

However, if He is too be glorified and honoured in our life, I am ashamed to think of how many of us act like the sinners we connect with, thinking that our connecting is a good and will lead to opportunities to share the gospel – which is such a lie from Satan that many of us have fallen for.

So, the first course of action is to be invited into a gathering, not to invite yourself.  Secondly, you always remember that you are walking in with Jesus, so prayer should be part of your entire evenings celebrations.  Thirdly, you may or may not have an opportunity to engage in conversation about the kingdom of God, so relax and let the Holy Spirit guide the connections you make.

Maybe I should share a few episodes of my own life.

High school.  Not sure how many of us enjoyed those years, but for many, including myself, they were tough.  Tougher still was lunch time in the cafeteria.  You could never eat alone, so who to sit with when your friends had different lunch periods.  Such was my situation in my last year and my first invitation to sit with some guys came from a group that were outsiders in general, philosophers in a sense, but loved talking about their sexual exploits or their rebel causes.  I just sat with them, they would engage me in some conversation about sin and God and we would dialogue – me against six others.  Not sure I made a difference, but they never rejected me and always greeted me, and they never became my friends.

Stag Party. When I became engaged to be married, my wife’s family were not Christians.  They decided to throw a stag to raise some money for us.  My younger brother, who was a Christian, also came.  Well, having never been to a non-Christian stag before, it was quite the scene.  Pornography on the television, gambling, drinking – all for my cause.  I can only say in that case that I was glad my younger brother was there and my future father-in-law as we found a corner where we could talk.  No one really noticed and no one really cared so it was good.

Birthday Party.  My wife’s niece and husband had a good relationship with us.  On a special birthday for him, we were invited to come and celebrate with them.  I believe that I have never seen such a large quantity or assortment of liquor in my entire life.  Then as guest began to arrive, more liquor came with them.  It soon became obvious that this was a party meant to turn everyone into a drunken stupor.  My wife and I found another couple who were talkative and engaging.  Church came up and they were pretty serious about making sure that their children had a chance to grow up in the church etc.  They began to make excuses of going to pick up their kids and so when they left, we did too.

In each case, I can’t say we made an impact, but I also can’t say we didn’t.  But what an eye opener to how the world operates.  We are so sheltered sometimes from what the world experiences that we fail to understand how to even talk to them in their language and are thereby ineffective in reaching them for Christ.

So even if only to understand their loneliness and pain, their need to shout out the voices that say they are worthless, do not turn down an invitation to be with sinners.  It might be uncomfortable, in might bring back some bad memories, but when you bring Jesus with you, it’s an opportunity to love them and pray, to learn and understand their language, and at some point, some day, explain the kingdom of God to them.  Better still, invite them to one of your parties.

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“Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emman′u-el” (which means, God with us)." Matthew 1:23 RSV
March 2013
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