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 😉