“When you sin, do you stop being a Jesus person?” the little boy sitting next to me at Good News Club asked me as my fellow teacher taught the kids about prayer. I usually encourage the kids to listen up when another teacher is speaking and save their questions for later, but this time I beckoned him to come closer and put my arm around the back of his chair. “The only people Jesus loves are sinners,” I whispered.
I answered his question because I was taking advantage of a “teachable moment,” but there was more to it — I needed to hear it, too. I tried to explain to him the concept of Jesus’ righteousness becoming ours, but it’s so hard: to explain and to believe. As we all bowed our heads and prayers began, tears filled my eyes. We are all stumbling forward into belief. The little boy next to me leaned against me and prayed. He’s just learning what it means to be a “Jesus person,” so his prayers are faltering; I’ve been a “Jesus person” for much longer, but so are mine.
When I was younger, I read a book about the victorious Christian life. What’s that? On most days (all of the days?), I don’t feel very victorious. I drag my sorry behind into church on Sunday and take the bread and the wine and pray for a miracle — that the gospel sinks deeper into my soul and changes me. This week I prayed, “Lord, if You don’t change me, I will not change.” That is, if You don’t step into my story, I am surely doomed.
Jesus has stepped into my story and continues to do so. The fact that I believe — or anyone believes– the gospel is a miracle. I am a “Jesus person.” But I am still sick with sin. And sometimes, like the little boy in my class, I wonder if that sickness will keep me from being a true Jesus person.
I hear all the time about the importance of our obedience, but little about the importance of Jesus’ obedience. I’m not saying that our obedience is unimportant; I’m just saying that it’s not the most important thing. I want my heart to be moved, not just my hands and feet. I want my motivation to change, not just my behavior. This is going to take awhile and when people look at me, they’re not going to see someone who has it all together. They’re going to see a sinner.
But I hope they see something else when they look at me. I hope they see someone who is loved by a perfect Savior who calls tax collectors and sinners to come and eat with Him. Jesus hangs out with the sinners. He hangs out with them, sanctifying them and conforming them into His image. That’s redemption. That’s my story. That’s what it means to be a “Jesus person.”
And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 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 5:30-32
This post was written by Jeanne Hulme.