To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.
~Titus 1:15 (New King James Version)~
Here I am again. I’ve been thinking about some of the things I’ve heard in church about how Jesus befriended the tax collectors and prostitutes. Tax collectors and prostitutes were thought of as lower class, scum of the earth citizens and the people of that day were astounded that Jesus would spend his time with these lowly individuals. This got me to wondering who Jesus would spend his time with if He came back today. The tax collector seems to be the least of our problems these days as I think about the evil that we are seeing in our world every minute of every hour of every day. Would He sit down with the murderers, the child molesters, the media? I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you might be thinking that He would seek out the Satanists or those who have been brought up to believe something different than Christianity. I would, however; be surprised if you turned out to be right.
The point is that Jesus sought out those whom others had cast aside and that’s exactly what we must do when we are trying serve Him and to set an example for others. Sometimes it is tempting to slip right back into our old ways when we rejoin friends from the past or run into individuals with whom we shared our darkest hours, but we must continue to stay strong in the Word and remember that God lifted us up out of the pit and set our feet on the path to glory. We must not look back on our former ways with any sort of affection or loving thoughts of how we were so stupid in our youth. Yes, there are many fond memories that we hold onto, but we must not confuse memories that bring joy with fond remembrance of the days when we could just cut loose and act like fools. I know that when I look back at some of my own escapades, I’m not necessarily ashamed of myself, but I certainly am ashamed of my actions. I know that it took all of that to make me the person I am today and that the experiences of today will help me to be stronger in the future. But by thinking back to my drinking days and remembering them in terms of how “wonderful” it all was, I would only be deceiving myself. If I’m being honest, my days of rebellion can best be summed up in one word; desperate.
Truthfully, it’s been many years ago but I used to go to the bar every night and sit there wishing that I had someone to talk to who understood me or cared about me. I had plenty of people to drink with and plenty of offers for other things, but I had nothing worth having. No real closeness with anyone. No promise of it. Only the illusion that we were all “having fun” and that we were invincible. I got very lucky in that I never had to understand just exactly how faulty my reasoning was then. When I think of how much worse things could have gotten for me, I have to acknowledge that the only reason I was never put in jail or that I never hurt anyone by being so stupid was because God had His hand on me and He would only let me go so far down into that pit before pulling me back up. He knew all along that I had faith in Him and He knew why I was hurting. He was just waiting for me to come around and let Him fix what was broken.
At that point in my life, I wasn’t necessarily an un-believer, but I certainly was trying my best to ignore God and I wanted nothing to do with what He wanted for me. I was angry, I was hurt, I didn’t understand why some of the things that happened in my family had happened. I pretty much felt that if God were really there, my life would have been better. Thank God that Jesus liked to hang around with the “scourge of the earth,” That’s the very reason why someone like me can sit here today and tell you that without God, none of it makes any sense. Nothing is worth the effort if God isn’t central to your strategy. Don’t forget to praise Him today. No matter how terrible you think you might be, He knows better and He’s right there when you’re ready to make a change.
The Year of the LORD’s Favor
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.