Søren Kierkegaard, philosopher (1813-1855) said…

Once you label me you negate me.

Ps 1: 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.  Mark 2: 16,17: When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’? “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

There is a place in God’s heart for everyone.  As wicked sinners, we have been justified by God, because Jesus, the only Righteous One, exchanged places with us (1 Pet 3:18; 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:13). 

Jesus’ attitude towards Levi and the sinners is inclusion.  The attitude of the religious leaders is exclusion.  A meal with people meant that you associated with them.  Joachim Jeremiasdescribes is as “an offer of peace, trust, brotherhood and forgiveness; in short, sharing a table meant sharing life.”  No wonder that Jesus is also called in Matthew and Luke a “friend of tax-collectors and sinners” (Matt 11:19; Luke 7:34)

In Jesus’ heart, there is room for sinners. 

Can anybody dare to be a sinner in your presence?  Jesus has the heart of a healing doctor, of a searching shepherd, a welcoming father.  Is there room in your heart that God may show his grace to someone who caused a lot of pain in your life, who deceived and betrayed you? 

When we exclude people, it is not them who are excluded.  An attitude of exclusion excludes us from God’s plan for the world.  His plan is to heal the broken people.  Do you share in his dream?

Lord, give me a heart like yours, so that I will dream with you about the healing of broken people, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.