Calling On All Sinners

Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:27–32,NIV 1984). 

My Musings – The Serenity Prayer, by Reinhold Neibuhr.  I’m pretty sure you’ve heard it.  At least the first part.

God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change…
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it.

Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will.
That I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with Him forever in the next.

Amen.

Apparently, Niebuhr had a major influence on the German Pastor and Nazi resister, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  And through this prayer countless others.

I saw this parody on FaceBook the other day by author unknown.

God grant me the Serenity
To accept the people I cannot change…
The courage to change direction
When I see them coming,
And the wisdom to not try to smack
Some sense into them
When I cannot avoid them.

My first reaction was a chuckle.  Although no particular person came to mind, the caricature of a multitude of unknown characters did.  And I’ve allowed myself (no excuses) to be conditioned to have a similar response — want to avoid them if I can, desire to smack some sense into them when I cannot.

Jesus went out of His way to meet people like this that society could not change.  The spiritual elite avoided them.  He dealt candidly yet compassionately with their dysfunctions (a/k/a sins).  The spiritual elite offered nothing but condemnation.  Jesus did not try smacking some sense into them, He offered forgiveness.  The spiritual elite kicked them to the curb.

I wish I had that chuckle back.  

My Advice – Once upon a time we were without sense.  But someone who did not avoid us, who did not try to smack salvation into us, brought us a clear testimony of the truth.  And then it all made sense.  What if they had avoided us?  What if Jesus had avoided the cross?  Jesus calls us to follow Him.  Follow Him to people we might otherwise want to avoid.  People we might otherwise feel like smacking some sense into.  People we might just end up calling brothers and sisters in the faith.