Over the past week, God has challenged my thinking a bit. He has allowed circumstances, people and timing to play a small part in allowing me to question some things.
The idea that comes to mind is ‘who do you hang out with’? Have you ever thought about this before? Did you ever evaluate whether or not your friends are really your friends or just people that like you while you are on the mountain top?
Growing up in New York City, you are conditioned to think differently for different types of people. Here is what I mean. When you enter a subway station, if you are not texting or reading a paper, look around. What is the first impression of who you see?
If you see someone who is unshaven, has dirty baggy clothes, smells a bit like a sewer and has a paper bag with a drink in it. You would probably come to the assumption that this person was probably homeless.
What if you saw someone who had a suit on and had a newspaper under his arm. He carries a briefcase and stands straight. Looking at him, you would think he is some important executive at a Wall Street firm.
Now ask yourself this question. Based on the information your brain just obtained, which one would you most likely talk to? Which one would you reach out to and strike up a conversation? If you are born and raised in NYC, like I was, you would either stand there and not talk to anyone or you might start a conversation with the suited person.
Did you know that the painted assumptions in your mind would be wrong? The first man, who looked homeless, was actually a construction worker coming home from work. He makes almost $100,000 per year. The drink in his bag is a Redbull because he wanted to make sure he had enough energy to see his daughters dance without falling asleep.
The second man I mentioned was actually a con-artist. He has a specific set of clothes, hoping to ask for money for his “hungry children” because he lost his job and was declined on the interview he had that day. This man was actually a drug addict wanting to get his next fix. He wanted people to feel sorry for him so that they would give him enough money to feed his habit. His wife and kids left him and was soon to be homeless because he didn’t have enough money to pay the rent.
Now ask yourself this question, “Who did Jesus hang out with?” Who did Jesus spend His time with? Who did Jesus feel was valuable (not good) enough that He desired to love them?
First, was a tax collector named Matthew. His job was to collect taxes for Rome. However, when he would try to collect the taxes, he would determine an increase and force people to pay. He would then pay Rome what they wanted and kept the rest. He had the backing of Roman soldiers, so his own people despised him. They felt that not only was he ripping them off, but that he sided with Rome as well. His profession was the most hated in his time. Jesus hung out with a thief.
Next, was James and John. Their nicknames were the sons of thunder. Why? Because they had major anger issues. They were also highly competitive and their mother babied them to the point that even she asked Jesus a question for them. Jesus hung out with the bad attitude, angry and highly competitive brothers.
Lastly, was Simon the Zealot. In Jesus’ day, Rome had control over Israel, however, there was a temporary peace in the land due to an uprising that happened just before Jesus was born. A group of people, called zealots, had gone out of their way to kill Roman soldiers in order to free Israel. They felt that violence was the only way to free Israel and finally throw off the chains of Rome. In essence, they were terrorists. Jesus hung out with Simon, who was a terrorist.
Obviously, there were more like, the woman at the well, who had been married and divorced several times and was living with someone outside the covenant of marriage. There was also those who were sick and dirty beggars who couldn’t provide for themselves. In our day, they may be called homeless or welfare recipients. Jesus even hung out with prostitutes and sinners!
No matter how you look at it, Jesus didn’t hang out with the ‘church’ crowd. He didn’t hang out with the pastor, elders and the crowd that came to church every Sunday. He didn’t hang out with the executives or the highly regarded. Jesus wanted to hang out with those who needed Him, who needed to be loved.
Jesus has challenged my thinking this week. Do I look at people as God’s creation or outcasts of society? Do I look at people in love and feel their pain or do I silence the screams for help from their voice?
Today, I want you to evaluate who you hang out with and ask yourself this one question, “Would they be someone who Jesus hung out with, who needs to hear about Jesus’ love and sacrifice?” If you can’t honestly answer this, I challenge you to think of someone who needs help that doesn’t look like you and I and needs to know about the love of Jesus.
God bless and think today.