“I eat with Sinners.”

This may seem like a trivial statement, but it’s more serious than it appears at first glance. In the first century, to eat with a person was considered a gesture of intimate fellowship and no small matter.

“You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation” (Acts 10:28).

In today’s climate, fellowshipping with sinners, unbelievers, etc, is viewed in a similar light. Many think we should only have close friends that are Christians.

I eat with sinners!

I do not say this vaguely or proudly. It seems to me that many unbelievers grasp the impact of the fallen world more than many Christians. I can confide in my neighbor and know that they are struggling in this falling world as much as I am. It is a sad state of affairs when pagans know to weep with those who weep (Ro. 12:15), more than our brethren in the faith.

Everybody wants to offer their 12 Biblical Steps to explain why I am struggling or how to resolve my problems, rather than admitting they can relate and empathize.

So why should I talk to you?

I do not want to hear what you would’ve done, I just want a sinner’s ear to hear a sinner’s problems.

Recently, a person I spoke to regularly on Twitter mentioned that he will not have new friends that are not in the faith. I found this to be a sad state of affairs. God reveals himself in many things and having a friend that is not a believer enables a person to share the Good News in a personable way.

At my previous job, I considered one of my managers a friend. He is an unbeliever with many questions and doubts. For Christmas, I purchased him a New Testament Bible so he could read the Gospels. I was able to do this by being a friend and having honest conversations with him over the years.

When I look across the table and see sinners, I know that the only difference between us is my hope in Jesus Christ. They experience dark days and joyous days, too. And there is no facade that they have to maintain to prove to me that they are an upstanding citizen of Christianity. I already know they struggle in this fallen world too, so their whole demeanor is not a sham!

I grow so weary of carrying my burdens alone and of the constant Oscar award-winning Christians. The ones that boast of their strong faith—always mentioning the peaks but never mentioning the struggles in the valley.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses…” (2 Cor 12:9).

I know this is wrong of me, but I look at you like a fool when I hear your triumphant, braggadocious tales. It’s wrong of me to judge, but I have witnessed too many times the gossip and chatter of the saints, and these always seem to be the ones with the triumphant, never struggle tales.

Over the past two years, I have learned that there is a hidden place in Christianity where you can share your fears, doubts, pain, struggles, and be pointed to Christ. You don’t have to worry about being pointed to the “saints'” examples, or about your image being tarnished. The sinners know they are just as much a sinner as you, so how could they judge you? Luckily, I have found such a place, and now pray the same for you. If you have seen or found this haven cherish it, because it’s rare. If you have not found it, keep looking.

Grace, peace, mercy to you.

Photo by Ann Larie Valentine via Flickr