For the past few days I’ve been listening to Casting Crowns’ new CD “Come to the Well.” My favorite song is City on a Hill, which I’ve written a post about before. But another song, which I remember them singing at the concert I went to in October, has caught my attention. It’s called Jesus, Friend of Sinners. It is classic Casting Crowns in the way it speaks to the Christian and calls us to be more like Jesus and less like the Pharisees. The verse that kept jumping out at me was this:
Nobody knows what we’re for
Only what we’re against
When we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs
Crossed over the lines
And loved like You did
There is another great verse in this song that is based on the story of the woman caught in adultery, which is one of my favorite accounts of Jesus interacting with real people. The story is recorded in John 8:1-11 (NIV):
1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
I love this story because it reminds me that Jesus accepted me just the way I was when He found me. He did not condemn me. But He also did not just leave me as I was. He said, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” He called me to Himself and called me to be holy by His power, in the strength of His Holy Spirit.
Jesus was the friend of sinners because it was sinners who needed Him and who He knew would respond to Him. It is sinners who are wounded because of their sin and need healing. As a friend He calls us to follow Him, to lean on Him and to be better than we could ever be without Him.
As His people, Jesus did not call us to judge the wounded of the world, but to love them and bring them to Him for healing, so that they might find His mercy and righteousness. It is knowing Jesus that gives the wounded sinner the ability to choose holiness, to leave their sin and wounds behind. It doesn’t happen instantly, but as His people grow closer to Jesus, the farther they go from their life of sin.
Who do you know who is among the wounded, living a life of sin? Have you spent too much time judging them and not enough showing them the love of Jesus? Remember, it’s not your job to cure their sinful life. Your job is to introduce them to the One who can.