We live in an age that loves scandal. Tabloid headlines greet us as we walk into the newsagents. In his day, Jesus was the great scandal-maker. We might imagine him to have been meek and mild but people were regularly outraged by him. One reason for that was the company he kept. He regularly ate with those considered to be the worst in society, and people labelled him guilty by association. Do-gooders and lovers of respectability were outraged. His response was to say: Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.
Many have imagined that the way to be ‘holy’ is to withdraw from the world and avoid being corrupted by all the ‘less holy’ people and things around us. Such people imagine that if you get rid of your worldly mp3 library, avoid pubs and cinemas and people who aren't Christians then you'll get more holy, particularly if you replace them with only listening to online sermons and 'contemporary christian music', only being involved in Christian events and only having Christian friends who can help you be more spiritual. Jesus takes a totally different approach. He doesn’t avoid sinners. He comes into his sinful world, right into the heart of the most scandalous situations and says that these are exactly the kind of people he has come to save.
The temptation in the Christian life is to become isolated from God’s good world, to avoid things that might somehow pollute us. There were people in Jesus’ day who did this and he criticised them for washing the outside of their cups (Mark 7v4) but not dealing with the real problem which is the heart (Mark 7v23). Sin doesn’t come from being in particular situations, or listening to particular music or spending time with people who aren’t Christians. Sin comes from the human heart and we need someone who can deal with that. We need Jesus who came for the sin-sick.
Christians are free to enjoy God’s good created world, to be thankful for what he provides. The world is marred by sin but is not dangerous to us. We can stay living in God’s world. Because of Jesus Christians are free to enjoy food and art with thanksgiving to the giver and ultimate creator. Christians can enjoy the pursuit of study in God's world, and discover the joys of marriage and work. Christians get to really live, to be the most human people on earth. Enjoyers of the life God has given to us. That's a scandal that will arrest the attention of our world, just as Jesus did.
Stay living in God's world.