Jesus Sat With Sinners Must We Do The Same?

There are some people in the world Id love to sit with, don’t mind sitting with or sit with everyday. These people are family friends or some people I met briefly in life but would love to see again. 

These people like myself ar all sinners but there the sinners I don’t want to sit with and sometimes people try to provoke me for not doing so. They make an attempt at making me feel guilty for avoiding such people that I view are a threat to my way of life. But to tell you the truth these people are not the threat for I am a threat unto myself simply because I’m too weak to deal with them and fear I may cause my own downfall by sitting with them.

It may be my brother in law who I don’t want to see. He’s terribly arrogant and hates religion. In fact his ego is so enormous that if you were to view the world from outer space, it would be more visible than the Great Wall of China. Do I love him? Yes and I do but does loving someone mean I should like them and sit with them? After all when a birthday party comes up and I say I’m not going because I know he’ll be there accuses me of being a horrible Christian. The same people who haven’t set foot in a church in 20 years become theologians all of a sudden and begin to quote me scripture where Jesus ate with sinners. 

Jesus did set an example for us to eat with sinners like ourselves and so we should. However Jesus, knowing our weakness and sinfulness, would rather we avoid such problematic people than lose our peace or even our cool around people indifferent to Orthodox Christian values. We’d all love the gift of being able to sit beside The most vocally anti religious people and just keep calm but sadly it’s not possible and so we must either indulge in our desire to show anger or better still keep calm and remove ourselves from the conversation or table altogether. I’m forever having to do the latter. 

Jesus calls us to eat with sinners ( and by sinners the gospel kinda means the godless ) but this doesn’t mean we have to form lasting friendships with them. Sometimes having to sit beside someone you don’t like can be an opportunity to practice patience. But you’ll notice Jesus didn’t hang around them for long. He approached them, loved them, at with them  but then retreated to the mountains to pray alone. 

This is what I believe we must do as it’s impossible to avoid everyone altogether unless you want to be a monk and even then you have to contend and sit with yourself never mind others. We can’t avoid everyone but it’s important that after such meetings we go on a retreat within ourselves to keep our connection with God. Why is God setting the example of eating with sinners but then also setting the example of retreating from them also to a lonely place to pray? Well….as the old saying goes….those who lie down with dogs will catch flees. 

It’s true, the more time we spend in the company of the godless, the more susceptible we are to become like them and eventually turn from or at least become ….forgetful of God. This is why daily prayer is a necessity of Christian life. Prayer is like water. If we forget to take water we gradually dehydrate and die. If we do the same with prayer we gradually become separated from God and his Grace and we die and the world becomes our idol and new friend because we spend more time with the world now than God. 

Don’t allow the devil to manipulate you into thinking you must sit and eat with everyone and if you don’t you’re not a true Christian. What a load of rubbish. You already know you’re not a true Christian until the day you die so why risk being an even worse Christian by losing your peace because you’re having to sit at dinner beside Uncle Sam who likes to pick his nose and eat it? 

No thank you, I’ll say no to that horrific situation any day of the week and so should you. Don’t feel bad about avoiding problematic people. You’re on a mission to work out your own salvation nobody else will do that for you so don’t assume yourself to be a spiritual giant who can sit beside everyone and anyone. The spiritual life is all about taking it One step at a time……..one step at a time…….until your out the door and half way down the street and then you can praise God and relax haha 😉 

God bless 

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7 thoughts on “Jesus Sat With Sinners Must We Do The Same?

  1. Nick Byrne

    Why did you even publish this article? This wasn’t very edifying to read, since it’s a much more spiritually healthy attitude to think of oneself as the worst of all sinners.

    I’m a convert to Orthodoxy from Roman Catholicism and a recent immigrant to Russia, and I was on the receiving end of this type of criticism before, and it’s very, very bad for Faith. I had a devoutly Orthodox girlfriend who said all the right prayers, fasted very strictly, had a spiritual father, etc. But, she was often extremely critical of me in all details. My English language prayerbook didn’t match exactly with her Russian one, sometimes I drank milk or ate meat during the fast, I didn’t give money to every beggar I met, etc etc etc. I’m doing my best, and I already know it’s not perfect, but it was never good enough for her.

    The criticisms kept on going, and after sometime we broke up. I couldn’t understand how someone so devout could be so cold-hearted, critical and judgemental. Afterwards, I was angry and it’s been difficult for me to have any zeal towards the Orthodox faith, and although fasting was hard before, I see almost no purpose for it now. I still go to the church and occasionally receive the Holy Mysteries, but I see no sense in having a spiritual father or dating a devout girl. I’ve seen what the end result is of doing everything “right”, and I really don’t want it. When things go wrong, it hits very hard “below the belt” spiritually.

    Now I’m still sorting things out, and dealing with the spiritual fall-out. I sometimes wonder if I’m on the road to hell, but I still force my lips to pray the Jesus prayer, and I get out of bed for Liturgy on Sundays (although I usually come to the church quite late). Because I can still pray and the priest admits me to the Holy Mysteries with full knowledge of what I do and don’t do, I guess that there’s still a cause for hope.

    I’m not going to guilt-trip you into spending time with people you can’t stand to be around. There’s no right or wrong answer here for what to do. Just try to be as loving and kind as you can be towards other people without compromising your Faith, and be careful since your actions and words will affect them. They may never meet another devoutly Orthodox person, and they’ll remember how you treated them.

    • Hi nick thank you. My blog posts are meant to spark food for thought. You see people in the world are at different spiritual levels think of it as a ladder and so for some it is better to avoid people who are a bad influence on us because we are weak and susceptible to biting the forbidden fruit. If you read the letters of John he advises not even to allow such people into your house. Why is this? Because he knows we’re not all at the spiritual level Of many saints and elders and can easily succumb to leaving the faith as a result of the influence of the godless.

      The reason I wrote this is precisely because of strict people like your old girlfriend who like to criticise me for not eating with the sinners. I do indeed view myself as the worst of all sinners and my inability to sit with some people I feel proves this but this view in itself does not mean I have to accept an invite to a topless bar or strip club to use the extreme.

      I thank you for relating to me your difficult situation with your girlfriend. I’ve met people like this also, in fact Lord knows I use to be one of them when I was Roman Catholic.

      My name is Stephen Mc Elligott. Look me up on Facebook as I’d love to hear more from you again. God bless

  2. I stumbled across your blog as this article was posted to a website I frequent.

    You mentioned a Brother in Law who despises religion. Another commenter mentioned an overly scrupulous ex girlfriend. These people are also broken, sinful people as we all are. It is difficult to know what to do in any situation.

    Have you talked to your Spiritual Father about this? I think that and prayer would be much more fruitful than blog posts like this. You are critical of the ex-girlfriend and those who would lecture you, but your blog post casts aspersions on these others. Your post reads like the Publican judging the Pharisee.

    The ex-girlfriend’s heart was probably in the right place, although she went down the rabbit hole of legalisms. I don’t know your Brother in Law, but I have talked to many Atheists who see religion as harmful and in their own distorted way think they are doing you a favor. It is a twisted version of love, but in their mind they see it as a kindness.

    • Forgive me if my post seems harsh or out of line. May Our Lord be with us all.

    • You’re right, we are all sinful and broken people which is why it’s important we protect each other. Even St.Pauls speaks in scriptures of not leading others into sin by our eating meat in front of those who don’t eat meat.

      A spiritual elder said that you must hold your tongue in others presence and be calm, showing love and if you can’t do this? Then avoid them as much as is possible.

      This idea that we must all eat with everybody and sit with everyone beyond our spiritual capabilities is itself a sort of spiritual pride that refuses to accept ones own weakness before the Lord. At the end of everything we do in life of course we must confess like the Publican “O God be Merciful to me a sinner ” but avoiding others does not make us the Pharisee.

      Thank you for your post, it was beautiful.

      God bless

      • If your Spiritual Father has advised you to do something, then definitely obey.

        My post was not to accuse you of being the Pharisee, but to make the point that those who are “Pharisees” are still children of God and we also can Sin by being critical and judging them in return, a “Thank God I am not some hypocritical, cold-hearted zealot like _________.”

        It is a devious trap, one that is all too easy for any of us to fall into. That was all. Thank you for your kindness. Our Lord be with you also.

      • Hi David and thank you.

        There is a difference between judging someone’s behaviour and judging the person themselves. Of course this must be done with bearing in mind that we are first and foremost a greater sinner than they. But this idea that not sitting with people because their troublesome people to our spiritual downfall contains somewhat the flavour of a pompous Pharisee is in itself a sort of pride that refuses to accept our own weaknesses that we can easily succumb to the godless influence of others and become godless ourselves.

        So for the people like yourself who have Gods grace to sit with everyone and do so in peace without fear of falling away from or damaging their faith are extremely blessed. But for the rest of us who are currently a difficult work in progress it is better we avoid situations or people troublesome to our faith. The Early church fathers understood this and I’m still trying to understand.

        Thank you David and God bless

        Your prayers please,

        Stephen

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