There is a philosophy I have heard a lot recently. Today someone on Facebook stated it like this,
“Jesus hung out with tax collectors, outcasts, prostitutes and lepers. If you are truly aspiring to be Christlike, you don’t judge, you love thy neighbor. Modern “Christians” seem to have forgotten Jesus’ actual teachings.”
According to these people, living a life of sin is acceptable because Jesus “hung out with” people living a life of sin.
I have also heard people say, “The Bible says you aren’t supposed to judge other people.” That’s a whole ‘nother topic, but it kind of relates, because it espouses the belief that we aren’t allowed to comment on other peoples’ life choices.
To those who believe the above philosophy, I can tell you that your stand is not biblical. Let’s read the entire passage in Luke 5:29-32:
Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus answered and said to 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.”
He was indeed “hanging out with” sinners. But He stated His purpose in doing so: to call them to repentance. Jesus wasn’t saying that it was acceptable to God for them to continue their life of sin, he was calling them to give up their sinful practices.
These people who state that God is ok with homosexuality, prostitution, or whatever simply because “Jesus hung out with sinners” are making the same error as the Pharisees: they assume that because He did not shun them He condoned their behavior. This is the exact opposite of what he was saying.
Jesus said to the adulterous woman in John 8, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.” He wasn’t saying that adultery was acceptable, He was saying that He forgave her, but that she needed to change.
Romans 6:1 asks ” Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” The answer is in the next verse: “may it never be!” This means “NO!” Once you find out God doesn’t want you to do something, you should STOP doing it!
Back to the original passage: yes, Jesus hung out with sinners. But He compared Himself to a doctor. Doctors hang out with sick people, not because they think being sick is a great thing. They hang out with sick people so that the sick people won’t be sick anymore! The doctor attempts to heal the sick person so they can be “not-sick.” In the same way, Jesus “hangs out with” us sinners so that we can trust in Him for salvation, accept His forgiveness and live for Him instead of for ourselves. Not so we can pat ourselves on the back and live however we want.