Those awkward moments happen all the time. The “cool” gang gets together at school and sits down in the cafeteria. Others look at them, wanting to be a part, but don’t even think about walking up to them and joining them because, well, you know. A celebrity comes walking by, a person that you’ve said that you would die to meet. You don’t walk up to them because, well, you know.
We all have that fear of rejection. The fear that maybe “those” people would get up and walk away if we tried to join them; the fear that they would treat us with such disdain if we tried to talk with them that we would never survive the embarrassment. “The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people.” (Acts 5:12-13) I wonder in the case of this story here if the people were also afraid of losing their status in the community. The disciples, crazy as they were for believing that a man dishonored and dead had come back to life, were admired – but you didn’t really want certain people seeing you with them.
As we read the continuing story, though, the apostles’ group grew larger. They not only accepted people freely, they found ways to minister to the needs of those on the outside. People were healed and the apostles didn’t ask for extra donations; they didn’t sell prayer cloths or access to the inner sanctum. They just shared the love of Jesus. As they shared the love of Jesus, as they healed others, people started sharing their personal wealth to take care of the needs of the members of the group since many of them had lost jobs and status in the community.
We have a problem in the church today. We are often seen as that group sitting by ourselves that people are afraid to approach. If there is any admiration for our lifestyle these days, it’s hidden. We have become influenced by society so that there seems to be very little difference. We don’t bring healings. We don’t perform miracles. Most importantly though, people don’t see the love of Jesus in us. We too often have taken on the role of spiritual policemen telling others what they’ve done wrong. If we are going to change the world, we need to remember that our job is not to point out the sin; our job is to point others to the One who forgives their sin. The old mantra is “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” We do a great job outwardly of hating the sin. We need to focus more on loving the sinner. Ask yourself this one question each and every day, and see if you can’t make more of an impact: “How can I show the love of Jesus to others today?”
Lord God, we know what sin does to people and so we are right to hate sin. But Lord, we also know that most people, trapped in their sin, know what that sin does to them as well. They feel rejected by us and by You. Help us show Your love to others no matter what their sin condition is, and let them know that You love them.