Jesus was known as a glutton and a drunkard.
"The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners,"'" Matthew 11:19.
How did Jesus get that reputation?
I' m not so sure it was because Jesus actually over ate or over drank. However, I do know He often hung out with people who did.
John 2, Matthew 9:10, Luke 15:1, Luke 19, and John 4 are some examples.
Jesus got the reputation of being a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of sinners, because He spent His time with them.
What is your reputation?
Who are you spending your time with?
Truth is, most of us would get tagged as "a friend of church people." That's not a bad thing. But has Jesus stopped hanging out with sinner just because we have?
Increasingly, I am meeting people who are rediscovering hanging out in the "right" places to meet and be friends with "sinners."
I have a young pastor friend in the great white north who hangs out at the Mocha Monkey coffee shop or the bar next door depending on the time of day. Does he like coffee and beer that much? He certainly is a fan, yes, but the bigger reason is because those are the places he meets people who need the good news of the Kingdom. He’s learning to more intentionally follow Jesus and Jesus hangs out with sinners.
I have a friend in my missional community who is seriously considering becoming a tattoo artist because he loves the art and because it puts him into position to be with people and hear their stories. He has noticed that tattoo artists are like bartenders. People feel free to talk with them about their problems. As the artist is applying the tattoo there is nothing but time to talk and listen. And the Kingdom of God comes...
Last weekend our family went to San Antonio to celebrate our youngest's 13th birthday. We had lunch on the River Walk and while we ate, a caricature artist walked up and offered to draw our picture. While he drew the caricature, we... talked. He told us his story. He is a Christian and as he spends several minutes with people drawing their picture, he says, it's amazing how many people feel free to talk with him about their lives and their problems. He has been able to minister to many people just because he is with them while he is drawing. And the Kingdom of God comes...
A friend who lives in the Northwest just told me another remarkable story. She regularly works out in a gym. About two years ago she was having a conversation with a friend in the gym about faith. A man nearby, who knew her because she was regularly at the gym, overheard the conversation and said, "Do you really believe all that faith stuff?" My friend looked at him and said she honestly did and could not imagine her life without her faith. She ended the conversation pointing out that when times got tough for her, she could "Dump it all on the Lord." The man did not share her faith and time passed. In fact, two years passed. My friend noticed that the man had stopped coming to the gym for several weeks. When they finally saw him again, he told them that he had developed a life threatening disease. Then he looked at my friend and said, "I remembered you telling me two years ago about how you 'dumped it all on the Lord.' That's what I decided I needed to do and I am so thankful I did.'" And the Kingdom of God comes...
Another friend told me her story just yesterday. She works at an electronics store and is a phone tech. She's the person you go to when your phone is on the fritz. While she is working on the phone there is often time to... talk and listen. She told me that as people are waiting for their phones to be fixed, they often open up to her about what's going on in their lives. One woman apologized for being so distracted but she needed her phone fixed because she was awaiting news about her test results. The doctors suspected she had breast cancer. Another man came in needing his phone fixed because a niece in a far off city had committed suicide the night before and everyone was trying to call this man for solace and direction. What do you say in situations like that? My friend has learned to say, "If you're the praying sort, please know that I will be praying for you and your family." And the Kingdom of God comes...
Not all of these situations involve eating and drinking, but they all illustrate one important fact: When you are available to people, it is amazing how often they will open up to you.
Why do people tell bartenders their problems? They are there.
Why do people tell phone techs their problems? They are there.
Why do people tell caricature artists their problems? They are there.
So, where are you?
And to whom are you available?