“I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
– Luke 5:32 NASB
These words come from the mouth of Jesus. Like so many other things Jesus said, it doesn’t match the expectations most people have of the way God would think.
It would be human nature to think that if God were coming to earth, He would want to gather all the good people, separating them from the bad people, so that He could reward the good people and punish the bad people. The flaw in this quite natural human expectation is that if God came to earth in search of good people, He wouldn’t be able to find any – at least, not “good” according to His standards.
God’s idea of a good human being is…well, Jesus. You’ll recall just how generously and virtuously Jesus lived, and how He bore up under shockingly cruel treatment – culminating in a gruesome murder by crucifixion. Regarding this utterly unjustified rejection of His being and goodness, Jesus said, while hanging from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” This is God’s idea of a life well lived. By contrast, none of us had this sort of scenario in mind when we thought of the typical “good” person. It’s become crystal clear by all this that no one is good but Jesus alone. Jesus’ mission targets every human being because every human being falls short of His standard.
It is nevertheless equally apparent that many people today are not responding to Jesus’ call. This must be because 1) they don’t consider themselves sinners, or 2) even if they do consider themselves sinners, they don’t want to repent. Many people today think they’re already righteous without Jesus’ help. They think racists are sinners…or they think that those who indiscriminately label others as racists are sinners. In any case, they think it’s some other people who are the sinners. And it’s equally obvious that many who do admit to being sinners see no upside to repentance. Alas, as long as we think in these terms we are stiff-arming Jesus Christ.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord Jesus, I know I’m a sinner. I know all too well things I have done that I should not have done, and things I haven’t done that I should have done. I’m not asking You to fix the world today; I’m asking You to fix me…so that I can be a blessing to the world today…(this is where you remain quiet in order to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.