Have you ever met someone or looked at someone from a distance and immediately don’t know if you feel comfortable talking to them? Ever just by looking at someone, you think, “They look like their life is a mess and I don’t really want to deal with it”? I have. My wife and I recently moved into a new home and we are very excited, but in all honesty, we quickly became concerned. Across the street from us is one of the most unique living situations I have ever seen. Any given night there are 6+ vehicles parked out front (sometimes in our driveway) and 10+ adults going in and out of the house smoking and drinking on the front porch. We are pretty sure all of them live there. The other day, I met the owner of the home who referred to himself as “I’m Cortez, the owner.” He was wearing a “tough guy” outfit with sunglasses, even though it was cloudy out. Immediately, I felt myself wanting to pull away. When suddenly I stopped and asked myself, “Why is that?”
PORTRAYING AN IMAGE
We all have neighbors or co-workers like that, don’t we? People that have done nothing wrong but from a distance look like trouble. In confessing this with my life group, we realized that at some point and time in our own lives, we likely looked like this as well to other Christians. I remember, for example, when I was going through a really hard time as a 16-year-old. I purposely dressed myself to come across like a little punk. I drove a sports car with 12” subwoofers blaring as loud as they could go with rap music, my hat on backwards, sunglasses on, and pants sagging. I looked like someone who was tough and had no cares in the world. But reality was something very different.
While riding around in that car and trying to look tough, deep down, I was lost and broken. I needed someone to love me and accept me even though I was a mess. I needed someone to hear my story of sin and struggles, but I didn’t know how to ask and figured no one would accept me.
JESUS AND LEVI
After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.
Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” - Luke 5:27-31
WALKING INTO THE MESS
Jesus looked past the jobs and the outer clothing. He saw Levi and knew there was more to him then just being a tax collector. He had no problem going to the party filled with non-believers. Jesus didn’t hesitate to walk right into the mess. Because He knew He was the way. He knew they were sick and knew He was the only solution to the problems they have.
My challenge to you is this. Love like Jesus. Who in your walk of life appears to be a mess and ultimately needs Jesus to help them get through it? Who is that neighbor you have been avoiding because of their appearances? Let’s love like Jesus and walk right into the mess of other people’s lives, even if the “religious people” think you shouldn’t. Because we are following Jesus and He never avoids us or our mess.