And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:31-32 (ESV) (Bold added)
If Jesus didn’t have a problem calling us sick and sinners, why do we have such a hard time accepting that fact?
While we are all well aware of the fact of our fallen nature, we are falling prey to a different rhetoric, a different law being at work in the world, one that says the exact opposite of that truth.
Looking around me today, especially on social media circles, I see society bombarding people with a new wave of messages on the likes of “You’re perfectly okay just the way you are, don’t ever change.” And while this stems from a really good intention, which is to make everyone feel like they belong and help them heal from the stigmas of bullying and other types of abuse that minorities have undergone in the past, allow me to show you why society isn’t doing you any favor by convincing you that being accepted and loved while at the same time being sick and in need of help are mutually exclusive.
When you are told that nothing is wrong with you while you know you are struggling with a certain issue in your life, two things are happening that are at odds with each other, thus making the whole process counterproductive. The first thing that happens is that your sense of belonging and acceptance is being affirmed, which is a good thing; and the second thing that happens is that the problem you have is left undealt with, which is a bad thing. + 1 – 1 = 0. So you really haven’t made any progress at all.
Let’s say you have a weight problem (for the sake of the argument). You’ve struggled with that your whole life and people have called you names because of that and others have made fun of you, belittled you, discriminated against you… you name it. You’ve really had it with this, and no matter how much you try to lose weight, you find yourself relapsing every once in a while, bringing you back to your former state; or maybe even worse than you were before. Then one day, someone comes along and tells you, ‘You’re beautiful just the way you are; don’t ever change’. At first you have a hard time believing them, but as more people start telling you the same thing you begin believing what they’re saying because majority rules. Next thing you know, you’re struggling less and less with your weight problem because society doesn’t have a problem with your problem anymore but guess what, your problem is still there, and if you leave it undealt with long enough, eventually it will cause you health problems. So what society is doing is that on one hand it’s affirming your sense of belonging and acceptance which you’ve never felt before because of your weight problem, but on the other hand it’s letting you forget about your problem or even worse, embrace it as part of your identity when you should be dealing with it for your own benefit. Equating beauty with acceptance and belonging, society is making you take your eyes off of the real problem which is the threat your weight is posing to your health, and make you think your problem is solved because you are now accepted and loved.
The reason society is affirming your sense of belonging and acceptance comes from a good place, because everyone is worthy of unconditional love and acceptance — there’s no question about that and no one should ever be made to feel less than that or discriminated against under any circumstance. But the way it’s being offered to you is counterfeit. Instead of giving you grace to deal with the problem at the root level –at what the real cause behind your weight problem is, whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual– society is letting you forget about that by intoxicating you with a false sense of belonging and acceptance, and soon enough you’ll start identifying yourself with your problem (which is no longer a problem to you), because you’ve believed the lie that this is who you are.
We don’t tell people who are injured or are physically or mentally ill that there’s nothing wrong with them, instead we take steps and help them take measures to bring them to healing and restoration, whether through the form of hospitalization, medical treatment, rehabilitation etc… But how come we don’t do the same with people who are spiritually ill?
How come we don’t look at people and say, ‘No, I’m sorry, you’re not okay, you’re stealing, you’re lying, you’re committing adultery, you’re being sexually immoral (having sex outside of marriage / practicing homosexuality / even lusting with your eyes after people), you’re committing idolatry (following other gods / worshiping yourself), you’re getting drunk, you’re being a reviler (even being a bully), you’re being a swindler, you’re blaspheming; and for any or all of these reasons, you are not okay! Repent (turn back) and come to Jesus. You need him to help you.’?
Is it because we are afraid of offending people and have been intimidated by the trending lie that we can’t love people and disagree with their lifestyle at the same time?
Is it because we know we are spiritually ill as well in our own way and “if the blind leads the blind, both of them will fall into the pit”, so who are we to judge?
Isn’t that what society is perpetuating today, that no one is perfect so you better not judge and tolerate everyone and approve of their lifestyle?
Jesus modeled something different when he hung out with sinners. He modeled acceptance and love while at the same time making a clear distinction between right and wrong. He didn’t say ‘I came to hang out with sinners to show them there’s no difference between me and them so that they can feel good about themselves and stay the way they are’. Instead he said, ‘I came to call sinners to repentance.’ (Luke 5:32) So a) Jesus spent time with sinners, thus modeling love and acceptance, b) He called them sinners (and sick), thus drawing a line between right and wrong, well and sick, c) He came to call them to repentance, thus stating that there needs to be a change of heart, mind and direction.
Sometimes we feel we want to love people more than Jesus did, while we know that there is no greater love than the love that Jesus showed for us (John 15:13). And if people back then didn’t have a problem admitting they were sinners or didn’t feel offended when Jesus called them that, then maybe we should do the same.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” – Proverbs 27:6 (ESV)
We have a word for when someone tells you something nice that isn’t true about you. It’s called flattery. Flattery can lead to many great evils because it deceives you into believing something about yourself that you’ve been yearning to hear but its purpose is solely for its giver’s own interests. Someone who loves you will tell you the truth no matter how much it hurts.
The world doesn’t want you to change, because the world doesn’t love you.
The world wants you to stay the way you are, because the spirit of the world is at war with God, and “whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather live in a society of people that are offended because they’ve come face to face with the truth about themselves than live in a messed up and dysfunctional society of people who feel good about themselves and have no intention to change.
I’ll end with this: Maybe it’s time we take a good look in the mirror and see ourselves as we truly are, sick people in need of a physician and sinners in need of a savior.
Repent. He is at the door.