The Insulated Church
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Matthew 9:11-12
To become a physician, I went to college and then medical school. Once in medical school, I understood that I was a physician-in-training, and that unless something went very wrong, I would one day be a practicing physician. In medical school, the first two years particularly, we spent our time in the classroom and were mostly insulated from actual sick people. Eventually though, we were sent out into the world. No one stayed in school, isolated from the world indefinitely. The goal was always to one day provide medical care for the the sick.
Imagine then, if someone went to medical school but refused to leave. What if this individual just stayed forever, always growing in knowledge, but never actually being useful to anyone?
I’ve done this with church of course. I can vividly remember teaching an adult Sunday School class, knowing the material, without having any experience actually living it. I could recite the doctrine, but I wasn’t following God and I certainly wasn’t sharing his love with the hurting. I lived the insulated church life, well-protected from anyone who might actually need God’s grace.
This seems to be the condition of the Pharisees in today’s passage. In the story, Jesus had just called Matthew, a lowly tax collector, and was seen mingling with sinners. The religious elite disapproved. If Jesus is so great, why does he spend time with these losers? Jesus, using a medical analogy, explained his purpose: As the great physician, he didn’t come for the healthy, he came for the sick. He didn’t come to help those who couldn’t see they needed it. He came to save those who were desperate for redemption. Jesus came to seek and save the lost.
As Christians, we do need to learn Christ’s teachings, but if we never get past the learning phase, we’re not really following him. If we can’t remember the last time we shared Christ’s love with someone who needs it, we’re doing faith wrong. We’re like that medical student who refuses to leave the safety of school. If we truly follow Christ, we too, must share his love with those around us who are hurting and desperately in need.