There is a modern idol which our society has created which I will call “the non-judgmental Jesus” that is highly desired today. This Jesus was inclusive to people regardless of their lifestyles, accepting everyone in the way they chose to life their lives without judging them.
Consider this: just because someone uses the name “Jesus,” that does NOT mean that they are referring to the person we read about and see in the Bible. Consider the Jesus of Islam for a moment. Do Muslims know Jesus? They would say, “certainly we know Jesus, we love, honor, and respect him as a prophet of Allah!” But since they deny that in Jesus God was being a man, they cannot be referring to the actual Lord Jesus.
The fact is this: a Jesus unconcerned about sin cannot be the Jesus of the Bible. Any Jesus unconcerned about sin is an idol.
If people want to talk about Jesus, that is fine, but don’t confuse talking about Jesus with LISTENING to Him, and reading his biographies in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John!
As we look at Jesus’ interactions with sinners, we are immediately struck with the reality that the notion of a God unconcerned with our sin is absolute nonsense. The reality is that Jesus, far from affirming people’s lifestyles, actually told sinners to their faces to “leave your live of sin” and continually told all people that they had to “repent,” which in modern lingo would be “you must change your lifestyle. The way you are living is wrong and self destructive!”
I can hear the critics now “are you saying that I have to give up my lifestyle in order to follow Jesus? I can’t believe in a God who would judge how anyone chooses to live their life!”
Recently, those practicing homosexual acts while claiming to follow Christ, use this argument to say “how could you try to impose a different lifestyle on anyone!” But the reality is that Jesus imposes a new lifestyle on everyone who sought to follow Him, not just those with same-sex attraction, but truly EVERYONE!
People have re-interpreted the places where “Jesus receives and eats with sinners” to suggest that Jesus’ eating with people was to affirm them, to say that God accepts them just as they are. This may sound nice, but it is not true.
There is not one instance of someone who came to Jesus and was told “I love you just as you are, keep on doing what you’re doing. That is how I made you to live.” The fact that Jesus ate with sinners in NO WAY suggests that He accepted their sinful lifestyle as an acceptable way of life.
Look at Jesus love for sinners in Luke 15:1, and then notice how the chapter is not about accepting sinners as they are, but rather about calling them to change their lives and come home to God!
Luke 15:1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”… v.7 “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety- nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” v.10 “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
And in the Parable of the lost son, the Father does not go embrace his son in the pigpen, the son comes home.
The message is HUGE! God wants EVERYONE to come, no matter what you’ve done and become, but God’s call is not “live as you like” but rather “come home to Me! Let my heart be your heart, let me show you how life was meant to be lived! Surrender your life to me!”
This is exactly what Jesus says just a chapter before in Luke 14 & also in Matt 16.
Luke 14:25-33 “…If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. … So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
Matthew 16:24-27 “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.”
From the beginning of the gospels, Jesus’ good news message about the coming Kingdom was “change your life and come join God’s Kingdom come to earth!” As Mark 1:14-15 records: “…Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’”
The good news was not that God wants to affirm any “lifestyle” we choose to live, but that God’s invitation is for EVERYONE, regardless of whatever we have said, done or become, that we can all share in God's Kingdom by being born again into this new reality! Thus a New Life, a New Birth into God’s Kingdom, a total change of lifestyle (repentance) was the theme of Jesus preaching!
Jesus exposes the sinful lifestyle of the woman at the well as a wake-up call to offer her Spiritual life, and guess what, it works! She was amazed to see that God’s Messiah cared deeply for her in spite of all of the sins of her previous lifestyle; that was good news! John 4:16-20, 29 - “Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.’… “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?’”
Jesus again focuses on the transformation of life that God desires and his intolerance for sinful lifestyles after healing the crippled man in John 5:14: “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”
I challenge you to read the Gospels and see for yourself how all of Jesus’ interactions with sinners sought to transform their lifestyles to ones that practiced righteousness rather than sin. Does Jesus say we must choose between living our lives however we want or following after Him? Yes. YES! Absolutely!
Which will you choose?
“Because whoever has a desire to keep his life safe will have it taken from him; but whoever gives up his life because of me, will have it given back to him.”