Quick History Lesson
The Pharisees of Jesus' day considered themselves separatists by their conduct. They tried to live a holy life by keeping the law to the nth degree.
The Essenes of Jesus' day considered the Pharisees to be "pretenders" to the separatist movement. They tried to live a holy life by removing themselves from society, living in the wilderness, and keeping the law to the nth degree.
By comparison, Jesus and his boyz were party animals. They hung out with people of poor repute, feasted with friends, and enjoyed a good cup of wine. Or two. In fact, the well-churched kinds of people of his day accused Jesus of being a glutton and a drunkard ... and not because he was a teetotaling health food nut.
End of History Lesson
For some, it might be easy to suggest that Jesus bent over backwards to "fit it" with the crowd. That he lived by the "When in Rome ..." kind of mentality, or was at least guilty by association.
But association was Jesus' rule of life. He did associate with all the "wrong" kind of people, at least in the eyes of the Pharisees and the Essenes. Jesus didn't separate himself from the rough crowd ... but he didn't condone bad behavior either.
Please read that last sentence again ... Jesus didn't separate himself from the rough crowd ... but he didn't condone bad behavior either. Jesus didn't condone bad behavior of the rough crowd, but he didn't condemn it either. Instead, when Jesus found himself in the company of the irreligious, he accepted them for who they were, but simultaneously modeled what a full and abundant life with peace and joy looked like. It turns out that the only behaviors Jesus ever attacked was the self-righteous hypocrisy of that day's "church going" kind of crowd. He was very protective of the people he chose to hang out with.
The goal of a Christian isn't to "fit in." It never has been. Christians are called to take the light to dark places. But we're not called to condemn those outside the faith either. We're to go where Jesus would go, hang out with the people Jesus would have hung out with, enjoy ourselves in their company, neither condone nor condemn those we're with, and be the light that models a joy-filled, peaceful, full, meaningful, successful, and abundant life.
I hope you'll join us for this week's Conversation on What Jesus Really Taught About Drinking.
Missed the Conversation? You can listen to it here.