“I have come to call…those who know they are sinners.” Mk 2:17 NLT
There is a difference between loving nonbelievers and loving their ways. Paul says, “Find common ground with everyone, doing everything [you] can to save some” (1Co 9:22 NLT). So: (1) Be courteous. “The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down” (Col 4:6 MSG). (2) Be genuine. “Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it” (Ro 12:9 MSG). Because Jesus found common ground with the woman at the well, she made peace with God, then brought her friends and family to meet Jesus (See Jn 4). You have to spend time around nonbelievers to introduce them to Christ. When Levi invited Jesus and His disciples as dinner guests with tax collectors and other disreputable sinners, the Pharisees asked, “‘Why does he eat with such scum?’…Jesus…told them…‘I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners’” (Mk 2:16-17 NLT). Author Mark Roberts observes: “Table fellowship signified deep intimacy. To eat with someone was to share in their life and to allow them into yours…The Pharisees, who were committed to the highest standards of ritual purity…expected Jesus to do as they did, keeping plenty of distance between themselves and questionable types who might compromise Jesus’ holiness.” Jesus didn’t see people as “scum,” and wasn’t concerned about maintaining a religious facade. He ate with sinners because they needed His help and were open to receive it. How about you? Are you willing to get your hands dirty? Are you more concerned with what people think about you than you are about those who need Christ?