Jesus said it would be hard to get people to trade in the old wine for the new (Luke 5:33-39).
2000 years after Jesus first started eating with sinners we still find ourselves gravitating toward the old.
One of the ways in which we are most unlike the Jesus we follow is seen in our inability or unwillingness to accept sinners as they are, to love them as they are, long before they ever think of repenting.
The greatest crisis facing most churches in America is not one of dwindling finances or diminishing attendance. It’s that our ministry in the world, our way of being in the world, looks so unlike the ministry of Jesus in the gospels.
Whether we want to admit it or not, if we ask the typical, non-church-going, irreligious “sinner” in our culture to describe Christians, they’re not going to describe Jesus.
They’re going to describe the Pharisees, even though they may not know who the Pharisees are.
They’re going to describe a people whose default setting is condemnation and judgement and exclusion, rather than love and grace and acceptance.
This means that we have to be willing to go above and beyond the usual pleasant courtesies in order to break through the suspicion and the hardness of heart that we’ve helped create.