Jesus once said that those “who are forgiven much love much” (Luke 7:47, NIV). This may be why the marginalized, the outcasts, and the “sinners” of his day were his preferred friends. It seems there is a ratio between the sense of guilt and regret that most of us experience when we sin and the deep relief and joy we feel when we have been forgiven. Jesus forgave sinners. He didn’t vilify them. Nor did he condemn. He simply and beautifully loved in an unqualified way. No wonder the offenders loved and the accusers (in most cases the religious leaders) despised him.

We often hear today the sentiment that we want to “be like Jesus”. What do we think we mean? Do we want to be some kind of saccharin good guy,  a polarizing lightening rod, a beneficent older brother, a bless-em-all problem solver ? Most of us in practice are NOT “friends of sinners”. If we tend in that direction it’s usually on qualified terms – we want them to change, to be like us. When it’s very likely the Lord wants them to be transformed into his image not ours.

When we claim to be “the hands and feet of Jesus” we’re in rarified territory. The extremities are not the “head”. They simply do what the head demands. If we’re going to do Jesus’ work our only option is dumb obedience. Trying to make him (and those to whom we minister) in our image will not do. Jesus called us to be “sheep”. Is there any dumber animal? So, when good is accomplished we say “to God be the glory”. If we want to shoulder in and take the credit all Heaven hears is “Baaa…”.