Steve Brown recently observed, "Church becomes the place where a nice, pleasant, bland person stands in front of other nice, pleasant, bland people urging them to be nicer, more pleasant and more bland. Jesus didn't die to create nice, pleasant, bland people. He died so that sinners would find grace and forgiveness, and, in the joy and exuberance of their discovery, would find it impossible to keep quiet about it.

"It's worth noting that Jesus didn't condemn bad people. He condemned stiff people. We condemn the bad ones and affirm the stiff ones. Whether it was a prostitute or a tax collector or an outcast, Jesus reached out to them. It was a motley crew of riffraff that followed Him around, and it never embarrassed Him or made Him feel uncomfortable. It still doesn't. But He's still angry at the stiff ones.

"One of the most radical statements Jesus ever made is found in Matthew 9. We've sanitized it and made it fit our institutional molds, and thus allowed it to lose its power. I'm referring to these words of His: "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (vv. 12-13)

"The difference between Jesus and us is that He didn't condemn the bad people -- He loved them and understood them even though He would have been perfectly justified in condemning them. We, on the other hand, can't condemn the bad people because we are them. Therefore, our only alternative is to tell them, as fellow beggars, where we found bread."

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