This week’s article is written by Roger Newberry, a member of Godfrey First United Methodist Church, 1100 Airport Road.
In Matthew chapter nine, it’s recorded that Jesus and His disciples were eating with “tax collectors and sinners.”
This astonishes the Pharisees — the religious leaders of the day — because, in their minds, and by their interpretation and understanding of the Scriptures, Jesus and His disciples shouldn’t have socialized with tax collectors and sinners.
Jesus states He came not for the righteous , but for the sinners. He said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick … I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” Jesus encouraged them to “go and learn what this means.” What does he mean by mercy, not sacrifice?
It’s been said that grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve … that is God’s unconditional love, and mercy is not giving us what we do deserve … that is God’s wrath. Psalm 51: 1-2 says “have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions … cleanse me from my sin!” Jesus’ love is for everyone. Sometimes the church does a good job of sharing this good news with others; sometimes it doesn’t. Our tendency is to reach out to people who are like us in some way ( maybe their skin is the same color; maybe their social status is just like ours, etc.)If they’re like us, we are more comfortable with that. Sharing the gospel with someone who isn’t like us may make us uncomfortable, but Jesus said the gospel is for everyone. It is for all, not some. Mercy (not giving what we think others deserve, and instead offering forgiveness) is our appropriate response to God’s grace (being given what we don’t deserve — God’s perfect love). Remember, share the good news, even if it makes you uncomfortable.