Things That Attract People To Jesus:
#1 - He valued people that society rejected.

When reading the gospels for the first time (Matthew, Mark, Luke, &/or John) people are usually surprised to discover several traits of Jesus that they were not aware of. One of these traits was the way he greatly valued people with lower social status. He was very gentle with them and seemed to enjoy their company (Luke 7:36-50), at the same time he was harsh in his words towards upper class leaders and religious teachers (Matthew 23).

One of my all-time favorite TV shows isBreaking Bad. It deals with topics that no other show really covers, such as meth dealers, chemotherapy, thug life, DEA, Mexican Drug Cartel, and Making Drugs out of an RV in the desert. It covers these topics in such an honest way. One of my favorite characters in the show is a "criminal" lawyer who helps the main characters launder money and manage their meth dealings. It may sound goofy, but every time I watch the show, I could imagine Jesus having a conversation with these guys and trying to help them out. It's not a crazy thought after reading through the first 4 books of the New Testament in the Bible.

It seems like the people who were interested in hanging out with Jesus in the Bible were the most morally corrupt, while those who had worked the hardest to manage their sins had much less interest in him. It seems impossible to read about Jesus in the Gospels and not notice his willingness and desire to hang out with the outcast, diseased, crooked, prostitute, spiritually dead, and broken people in that time. People who had given up on earning a place of respect in the judgmental, dominant religious scene were grateful for Jesus' willingness to look them in the eye, perhaps for the first time feeling wanted and accepted. They followed him everywhere.

Think of the worst person you know. Got it? Now, imagine if you heard today that the most prominent religious leader of today was in town and they chose to go and hang out with that person, rather than do a tour of Houston, speaking at different events. That scenario would get your attention. That's how Jesus was. He built his whole ministry off of some teenage fishermen, a tax collector, and some middle to lower class guys. It's a bizarre model that I have never seen anyone else use.

Jesus had thousands of people following him from place to place without any knowledge of where their next meal would come from (Matthew 14:13-21). His love and acceptance of people was overwhelming and anyone needing hope & love wanted to be around him. It's uncommon to hear of a religious leader who attracts criminals and crooks, but people felt genuinely loved and safe around Jesus. The main people he didn't do well with were the powerful religious leaders.

Jesus presented an enormous threat to those who were wealthy politicians, religious leaders, and powerful people. He dismantled their ability to funnel people through their programs and rituals to find God. He was bringing the freedom & love of God that everyone had always been searching for, right to the people, without asking permission from any leaders. There were a few leaders whose desire for God's will was greater than their thirst for power (Nicodemus, Roman Officer, etc.) and they jumped on board, but most were threatened by how Jesus would affect their social position.

Jesus had no problem putting the religious leaders in their place either. He seemed more comfortable with regular "sinners" than with religious leaders.

Matthew 9:10-13
Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?"

When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have not come to call those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

Christianity and Jesus seem like two separate things sometimes. Too many churches attract the clean people, while the crooked people in society simply feel judged by these “good people”. Christians seems more interested in "being right" than knowing the life stories of the outcast, diseased, crooked, prostitute, spiritually dead, and broken people they have to share their city with.

A few years ago I had a wake up call while working for a church in Houston. There was a homeless alcoholic who stopped by the church one day asking for help. No one on staff wanted to deal with these types of people, so I was usually called outside to talk to them. We didn't let them in the building and most of the other staff just ran them off. This guy was earnestly trying to get his life straight. It was obvious that he needed someone to look him in the eye and tell him that he could do it, and was worth it. I gave him some money and asked him to come back on Sunday. Sure enough, he showed up, but the pastor was not happy about it. I was instructed to make sure that guy was out of sight. 

You see, this church was in an affluent part of Houston and most of the congregation were financially very well off. This man stood out among the crowd of well dressed businesspeople, and attracted unwanted attention. This made people have to deal with the uncomfortable reality that there are people right outside of the church who are poor and need help. These people were at church to feel good about themselves, not to have to deal with other people's issues.

I took the homeless guy to our youth room and told him that he could hang out with the High Schoolers instead of going to church. He could tell he was unwanted by the adults in the church and as we waited for the teens to arrive, he seemed skeptical that they would accept him. As soon as the teenagers came in, they started asking him his name (which was Keith). I saw his posture change and his face start to light up. He was both relieved and happy to be accepted.

We talked about Jesus that day and Keith asked questions and worked through some of his "God issues" with us. He came back 4 or 5 more times and then disappeared. I don't know what happened to him, but I know that he was amazed to learn about Jesus and be accepted by a group of High School kids.

It seems that a group of people who really follow Jesus would have the ability to attract the outcast, diseased, crooked, prostitute, spiritually dead, and broken people in their city. I know it's easier said than done, but it seems like a natural by-product of following Jesus. Most of the people I know who really love Jesus, also really love people.... not just the ones in their church. They enjoy being around people outside of their faith and learning from them. 

Jesus is a friend to the broken, lonely, shallow, creepy, lost, unlovable, diseased, sexually abused, greedy, selfish, corrupt people that share our city. He didn't come here to start a church, he came to "proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.[Luke 4]”

If you are wondering about who Jesus really is, just read the book of John. Click Here if for a link to read it online.


09/02/2013 9:30pm

Interesting article....seems like the society that existed in Jesus' time still exists today. Different faces but same atmosphere.


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