When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
The whole notion of Christianity is really pretty offensive if you take it seriously. To be the most faithful you can be you have to admit that you aren’t faithful enough. To be the most perfect you can be, you have to admit that you are imperfect. To gain respectability in the eyes of God, you have to admit that at your core you aren’t all that respectable. In other words, to really internalize the grace that God offers, you have to be willing to admit that you need grace!
Contrast this with how we usually live our lives. We are taught to respond to the question, “How are you?” The appropriate answer is, “Fine.” When we are often asked, “How’s it going?” The right answer is also supposed to be, “Fine.” A cultural pattern here: The correct answer is always supposed to be “fine,” pretty much no matter what the question! We put on masks and try to “put the best face on things.” We are taught to “pull ourselves up by the boot-straps.” Needing help is defined as its own sin. People who need too much help are labeled as “lazy” or “incompetent” or something worse.
Contrast this with the message of Jesus. If you think you are fine, he doesn’t have much to offer. While Christ came to change your life, if you’d rather not change it, Jesus isn’t likely to force himself on you. He will love you. He will care for you. Nothing can change that because at the core of Jesus lies the presence of God and God is love.
However, out of that love the offer that Jesus lovingly makes to all of us: “I love you as you are. But you don’t have to settle for ‘as you are.’ If you own that you need forgiveness, grace and healing, there is so much more that we can do together.”