He Came for the Sick
The words of Jesus in Mark 2: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” He said this when the scribes of the Pharisees questioned him about eating with tax collectors and “sinners.”
How do we miss this on a daily basis? Often people feel as though their past sin keeps them from a relationship with Jesus Christ, but the whole point of what God has done for us is that we cannot redeem ourselves. Keeping old guilt and shame on your shoulders only leaves room for self-loathing, pride, and a higher mountain of guilt and shame. We need to realize that Jesus paid the debt that we could not repay.
Many people we talked with in Uganda spoke of how they had been “born again,” but in later years they “backslid” away from Jesus. They believed the misconception that unless they do everything right, they cannot go to heaven. There are so many aspects of that thought that just don’t add up, but I will attempt to address only a couple. Jesus does teach that faith without works is dead (James 2). Faith and works are interconnected, though, they are not separate entities. A new life with Jesus means that everything changes, literally everything. Your old desires become just that; old, outdated, unsecessary, and unattractive.
“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:43-45
We were bad trees. We were known by our rotten fruit. Once Jesus renews a person, that person becomes whole, new, and good. Not by our own power, but by the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead…the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside us.
The other part of the mentality of many Ugandans (and, more than likely, many Americans as well) is that the reason they were born again was to be accepted into heaven. Yes, Jesus promises eternal life. Who would want an eternity as we live now, though? The story of redemtion is about renewal. In the Lord’s Prayer, after addressing God for who he is (in heaven and holy), it says “Thy kingdom come.” As followers of Christ, we are to bring his kingdom here, not just sit around and wait for heaven.