This past weekend, I had the privilege of getting to listen to one of my mentors, Woody Biggs, speak. He made a statement that should resonate throughout the church. He said in the community where the church he preaches is located, they have a reputation for being the church that accepts anybody. While this is often meant to be negative, it is actually a great compliment to any church. Now keep in mind that accepting people is not equal to condoning a sinful lifestyle. Accepting people gives us an opportunity to build a relationship so we can lead that person to Christ.


The mission of the church is to seek and save the lost. That means we are going to encounter people with some really heavy baggage. As true makers of disciples, we are often going to have to help people unpack bags they are carrying around and it can get ugly! We may have to deal with issues in other people’s lives that we never had to deal with in our own lives. We can’t judge, we just need to love and offer all the support we can. Making disciples means building relationships. We cannot build relationships without getting involved with others. Think about it, we are told to go into the world, and we are told to seek. Both of those commands require action.


Jesus gave us many examples of accepting people. Jesus offered the woman at the well who had been shamed by her community for her lifestyle, living water (John 4:7-26). He did not condemn the woman caught in adultery. Jesus told her to go and leave her life of sin (John 8:1-11). The Twelve Apostles were not perfect, and Jesus hand-picked them! Peter had issues holding his tongue. It is believed that James and John had anger issues due to their nickname “Sons of Thunder”. Matthew was a tax collector which made him an enemy of Israel. Simon was a zealot who would be what we call a legalist. One, Judas, was even a known thief! They all exhibited signs of pride at times, like when they argued amongst themselves about who was the greatest (Luke 9:46). Jesus accepted each of these men for who they were and then taught them. That is what we are called to do.


One of my favorite examples of Jesus accepting people is when He attended a dinner at the house of Levi (Matthew).  This dinner included many tax collectors and sinners. Of course, this did not sit well with the Pharisees. They approached the disciples and asked, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” I have always found it interesting that the Pharisees would question the disciples and not Jesus. That did not stop Jesus from answering their question. Notice what Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12, 13).


If we are going to be like Jesus, we have to be willing to accept anybody. Our responsibility is to introduce them to Jesus and help guide them into a saving relationship with Him. It is not up to us to change anybody’s life. Only God can do that. Our responsibility is to guide them down the path to righteousness and show them the tools that are available to them. The rest depends on their response to God. But it all starts with us accepting people where they are.


Read Luke 7:36-50