FRIENDS OF SINNERS
by David Kidd
There once was a man who wanted to catch fish, so he spent
lots of time with other fishermen. He loved talking with them and
learning from them. He loved singing fishermen songs and admiring
fishing equipment, but he didn't go to the fishing spots because
he hated the smell and feel of fresh fish. Day after day, he came
home to his wife without fish for supper and no benefit from
being a fisherman.
Jesus, unlike this would-be fisherman, was friendly with
those He came to "catch" - even being accused of hanging out with
thieves and prostitutes. When He dined with sinners at Levi's
house, the Scribes and Pharisees complained, "How is it that He
eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?" (Mark 2:16).
Again, Jesus ate at the house of Zacchaeus, and some said,
"He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner" (Luke
Jesus spoke strongly to such criticism. To those who asked,
"How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and
He said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician,
but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but
sinners, to repentance" (Mark 2:16, 17). And to the complainers
who said, "He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner,"
Jesus explained, "The Son of Man has come to seek and save that
which was lost" (Luke 19:7,10).
Most of us are not very good imitators of Christ in His
friendship with sinners. Before following Jesus in this way, we
might reflect on the potential consequences. We might receive
criticism for it, as Jesus did, or even hate mail. Our friends
and kinfolk could distance themselves from us, and we might be
tarred with the same brush as our sinner friends.
Jesus suffered such indignity. His reputation was called
into question because He befriended people of poor reputation.
But none of this stopped our Lord from His mission, nor should it
stop us from the same.
Jesus was not just an acquaintance of sinners but their
friend - someone who loved them. Nor was He just their friend in
secret, but in the open; He was known for it. Not too many
Christians I know have a similar reputation.
Several Scriptures offer caution about how we choose our
friends (Proverbs 12:26). We are warned about making friends with
fools (13:20), with angry persons (22:24), with those given to
rebellion (24:21), or with gluttons (28:7). We are not to be
enticed into sin by either relatives or friends (Deuteronomy
In light of these warnings, we must relate to our sinner
friends with wisdom and discretion. Being the Jesus kind of
friend to sinners means that we openly show them real love. We
can do this without associating in ways that will lead us astray.
We need to know our own strengths and weaknesses and be careful,
relying upon God at all times.
Sometimes Christians are like the would-be fisherman. Called
to be "fishers of men," we spend most of our time huddling with
the righteous, learning their righteous lingo and singing
righteous songs, while spending very little time with the sinners
whom Jesus came to seek and save. Too many of us don't have the
concept of a fishing spot, and end up fishing nowhere.
Let's practice friendship with sinners in the way Jesus did
- even to those who have personally offended us. The marvellous
hope we have in Christ is for them too, if they could only see
Him in us and repent.
David and Angella Kidd attend and serve in the Adelaide church in
Entered on this Website May 2008
I have seen this sort of article a number of times over the
years in various religious magazines. While there is a certain
point of truth in it, there is also a misunderstanding. First we
need to be humanly logical. Quite frankly if one Christian person
tried to enter the "sinners" say night-clubs of this world, and
started to preach Christ and the Kingdom of God to them, they
would probably be asked to leave, or even "set upon" - can I say
in modern language "beat up." It is true some few people have
been able to talk to prostitutes on the street (they are usual
standing alone and approachable) but their problems go far deeper
than just selling sex, they are usually drug addicts. It is also
true that some "church" organizations set up a physical building
in some crime and drug and prostitute area of some town, and over
a period of time can win some of those so-called sinners to Christ.
All of that is vastly different than individuals alone going into
some of the crime/prostitute/drug areas or night-clubs of cities
and towns, in the way Jesus did, as often put forth in such
articles as above.
Yes, we are to love everyone, be kind, serving, helpful, and
show forth our Christianity to all people, good, bad, and
inbetween, as the opportunity arises, within the framework of
Second, what is forgotten it seems by such teaching, well
meaning I'm sure, is that Jesus was the Son of God, with MIRACLE
working power. He was FAMOUS, well known, had acquired a
REPUTATION among all peoples. He could go into a crowd and if
they were upset at Him to the point of wanting to stone Him or
throw Him of a cliff, He could "PASS THROUGH THE MIDST OF THEM."
You may recall that He did that at least once in the New
Testament Gospels story. Jesus had the POWER to be able to DEFEND
Himself against any mob attack. We as single individuals cannot
be guaranteed such safety from a group of drunks, druggies, or
night-club crowd that just ain't interested in hearing about
Christ was shall we say, in the headlines of the local
papers, He was known as a POWERFUL MIRACLE working preacher, His
fame went BEFORE Him, and IF He was going to associate Himself
with "sinners" of the dark side of the world, THEY KNEW why He
was coming. He was not coming just to be "nice" to them, have a
party time, He was coming to PREACH the Kingdom of God and
Salvation to them.
I submit to you that such a situation with the famous
powerful miracle working Jesus and the "sinners" of the world, is
FAR different than with an individual UNKNOWN, no miracle
powerhouse, of a Christian today, trying to go into some of the
group "sinners" of the world, and convert them to Christ. Or
trying to visit one of the "underworld" god-fathers or crime
bosses or drug lords.
We cannot take EVERYTHING that Jesus could do and did do,
and apply them to just any individual Christian, when it comes to
the "sinners" of the world, or the ones that "Christian religion"
would look upon as the "scum of the earth" - "the slop of the
While we should of course show Christian love and compassion
towards all people, we need to remember Jesus was a UNIQUE
individual, with the POWER and PRESENCE and MIRACLES and FAME
going before Him, that was able to put Him in the midst of the
world's sinners, in a CONTEXT, that is not possible for the
average Christian saint today. For the vast majority of
Christians today there are certain groups of people (or
individual people) in certain parts of towns and cities, that YOU
NEED TO STAY AWAY FROM. They will have their calling to salvation
in God's due time, which may not be in this lifetime (if you are
studying from this Website you will see the truth that God has a
plan of salvation for all people, but in His time frame) - there
are many others out there that you can teach Christ to, without
the fear of getting a knife stuck in your ribs or a bullet
between your eyes. Jesus also taught that you should not throw
your pearls before the feet of swine less they turn and trample
you under their feet also.
Ah, yes, Jesus also said, "Be as wise as serpents and as
harmless as doves."
The main truth of the above article is that when the
opportunity arises, and comes your way, be loving, kind, patient, and
share Christ with people by the way you live, in words and in
actions. Use WISDOM in all that you do and in all places and with