The Insulated Life
The scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Mark 2:16
I can clearly remember a time in life when I read this passage and realized something might be wrong with my life. I believed in God and I claimed to be a Christian, but I didn’t really associate with anyone who didn’t seem to have their life all together. I liked my nice insulated, shiny-on-the-outside world and except for work, I generally avoided those who might be struggling and needed help. At that time, wrestling with my own recovery, I wouldn’t have opened up to anyone about my addiction, and I certainly wouldn’t have volunteered at jail for a bible study/recovery meeting.
Insulating is dreadfully easy to do as Christians. We feel that we should avoid destructive behavior, and so, we avoid making any relationships with those whom we consider to be living such a lifestyle. We don’t drink, smoke, or curse, and in our smugness, we look down on those who do. We pervert holy living to make ourselves believe that God wants us to avoid everyone who doesn’t look, dress, and act as we do. Look at how clean I am! In doing so, we become the worst of sinners, like the pharisees, indulging in deadly pride.
When Jesus associated with those whom the religious elite looked down upon, they disdained him. Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners? They couldn’t comprehend how someone who claimed to be good could allow such filth around him. It wasn’t that the Pharisees were better or cleaner. They just thought they were. In reality though, they were just blind to their own dirt. Jesus came for those who knew they needed him and the Pharisees, in their self-perceived cleanliness, certainly didn’t need Jesus.
I don’t do it perfectly, but daily, I try to remember my own needs and failures, which aren’t just something from five years ago. I still need Christ daily, and so, I try to find others who need him as much as I do. It’s not the shiny facade that I once imagined my life to be, but I’m certainly much better off for spending time with others who also know how badly they need God.