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God Loves the Ungodly

Luke 15:1-2
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering round to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners, and eats with them.’ (NIVUK)

What a paradox!  In human relationships, we love people like ourselves or those who complement us - not those whose values are totally opposed to ours.  Yet Jesus welcomed the immoral and corrupt people whose businesses were a national disgrace.  The Pharisees observed that Jesus showed far more than polite interest in them.  His welcome was lovingly warm and mealtimes were shared as though He really wanted them to be His family ... and He did!  He even appointed one of them to be on His team – Matthew who later wrote the Gospel (Luke 5:29-32).

But the mutterings of religious disapproval only increased.  Surely Jesus could not be anything to do with God, because God hates sin and cannot tolerate its presence near Him (Isaiah 59:1-2).  But Jesus had come to forgive sinners and welcome all who trusted in Him.  There was something about repentant sinners that shone brightly whereas self-satisfied religious pomposity was very dark.  Jesus even said to the devout religious leaders, “…the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.” (Matthew 21:31).

That was because: "... God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16).  The wonder of the gospel is that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).  It is unique among all the world’s religious philosophies, that God, who hates sin, should love sinners so much that He took the punishment of their wickedness onto Himself - so that they might share His righteousness.  See www.crosscheck.org.uk to know more.

This paradox is still a puzzle to sinners, but it is the truth.  Many hide away from God, because of their evil deeds and rebellious hearts (John 3:19-21).  They believe that there is no hope for them.  Their 'natural religion' does not allow the possibility of mercy and grace, for they have not received it in this cause-and-effect world.  That is why we, who know Jesus, must proclaim the truth that He loves sinners; He welcomes all who hear His Word and repent so that they might receive His mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:16).  Even some believers have lost sight of those facts, demoralised by their conscience as they accept the devil's lie that they cannot be forgiven.  If that is you, dare to come to Jesus, listen to Him and know that His blood cleanses every sin (1 John 1:7).  And those friends and colleagues, who groan under a load of unforgiven yesterdays, need to hear you say that Jesus loves everybody, including the ungodly – and invites them to sit with Him if only they will receive Him (Revelation 3:19-20).

Gracious Lord. I am amazed that You should love people who turn away from You, but I am so glad that You do! I worship You for Your mercy in not giving me what I deserve, and in freely giving me what I do not deserve. Please forgive my sins and help me to resist Satan's lies which tell me that You will not cleanse me fully. I pray for my friends who are so burdened by their past sins; may I be bolder in sharing the good news of Your welcome to sinners. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams