“Friend of Sinners” by Octavio Martinez

Jul 29

Octavio Martinez serves as the campus pastor at Mosaic Whittier (octavio@mosaic.org).  Octavio writes:

“How many friends do you have? Not the kind you agree with, order but the kind who disagree with you at every fundamental level, the kind who don’t participate in any Christian spiritual community, the kind who live such an unhealthy life that you wince or weep when you think of them? When I look at the life of Jesus, He was a friend to those I was taught to avoid.

“While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house many tax collectors and “sinners” were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 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’?” (Mark 2:15—16, NIV).

Many of us have friends simply because we can be dark when we’re with them. That’s no good and that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m making the case that if we wish to practice the teachings and imitate the life of Jesus, we should be known as He was known: a friend of sinners. We should be friends with people regardless of their politics, tastes or lifestyles. We memorize and quote John 3:16, but rarely practice John 3:17, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” So I refuse to do what Jesus said He wouldn’t do.

Many of us do not have friends who are different from us because we have limited social skills or?and I think this is the main reason?because sometimes, it’s just too confusing. Would I be a friend with a person if I knew for certain they’ll never come to believe in Jesus? Of course! Otherwise, I have demeaned their humanity and made them a project. How do I deal with the actions that completely violate my own convictions or standards? You celebrate what you can and you allow people the dignity of their decisions as God allowed us to have ours. And you pray for them. Here’s what I am convinced of: love always wins in the end (1 Corinthians 13:8a).

During almost every wedding I’ve attended or officiated, 1 Corinthians 13:1?8a is read. But when you remove the gauzy warm fuzziness of this passage, it comes down to this: love is action. The heavy lifting is found in verse seven “[love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” The sometimes slow but certain influence of our lives in the lives of others is how we can be known as a friend to sinners. This is how I want to be remembered: a friend to and for anyone. This drives what I do as a follower of Jesus and as a pastor.

I hope it will drive you too.”

Octavio Cesar Martinez

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2 comments

  1. artie /

    I am always interested in being friends with smart, funny interesting people. Maybe you folks at mosaic are different than most southern baptists and evengelical christians I have met. Most appear polite but often are piously arrogant or arrogantly pious and ignorant of their own bible, the history of christianity and the world beyond church’s mission. Many seem like they are over zealous sales people. You are a confusing bunch of people…

    I am a gay mixed race hindu from Bali… and in truth I have read most of the bible and find very little “spirituality” in it.

  2. dora your sister /

    i loved this tavo

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