“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. . . For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” – Matthew 9:12a and 13b
Author Dane Ortland describes a hypothetical scenario whereby a doctor moves to an area of the world among impoverished villages. He sets up a medical clinic, inviting people to come. Do you know what pleases him most? When sick people show up! Especially the very ill, desperate for his care. If only the healthy came to visit, his efforts would be wasted. He’s doing what he came to do only when the sick come.
Ortland goes on to compare this to Jesus’ ministry. He didn’t come for those who felt spiritually healthy. He came for those who were spiritually sick and knew it. He was accused of hanging out with sinners. Of course that’s what he did! They were why he came. Sometimes he didn’t wait for them to come to him. He went out to find them.
Jesus is back in heaven, but his purpose remains: To seek out those of us who know we’re sinful and to welcome us with open arms. When we come, he cleans us up, sets us on our feet, and loves us into the kingdom of God.
We’ve got it wrong if we think we have to get our act together to be able to approach Jesus. Or if we think what we have done is so bad he could never forgive us. He came for people like us – people who know how much they need a new life, a spiritual bath. Only real sinners can experience his real forgiveness.
“. . . for the penitent, his heart of gentle embrace is never outmatched by our sins and foibles and insecurities and doubts and anxieties and failures.” – Dane Ortland
The book cited is Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortland
Have you ever had your love for someone shaken? You heard about the affair. You found out what a friend said to another person about you. Your children turn away in anger. Human love sometimes does not survive these deep hurts.
God’s love is different – it never gives up. Peter denied Jesus, but Jesus did not for even a moment stop loving Peter. Jonah was angry at God’s mercy toward Ninevah. God planted a bush so he would have shade. Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s one prohibition. He provided a sacrificial covering for them. God’s love for his own children is unshakable.
Don’t get me wrong. We should not test that love – the Bible is clear about that, too. If we live outside of his boundaries, God will bring discipline into our lives to draw us back into companionship with him. We are far better off living in sync with him than wandering away. But, when we do stray, his love follows us – always.
The security for us is that God loves us because of who he is, not because of who we are. When we hurt him, he still loves. He forgives. He restores. That’s what he does. He just asks that the intent of our hearts is loving him back.
Still not convinced? Take is from Paul inspired words, then: “I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us“. (Romans 8:38-39 The Message).
“God loves you unconditionally, as you are and not as you should be, because nobody is as they should be.” – Brennan Manning