I just want to paste a post from my friend Jamie in Winnipeg. It is a great post, as are all of his. I would encourage you to check him out.

But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:12,13 (NASB)

Growing up, when I heard this Scripture, I often found myself confused. I understood the basic premise- that Jesus did not surround Himself with the religious elite, but came to seek and to save the lost. However, it was clear to me that Jesus held His strongest words or reproof for those who were part of the established religious community. They were exploiting their power and position, compromising to the powers of the surrounding culture and play-acting their reighteousness for show. Would this not make them, in a very reall sense, “sick” as well?

Over time it became clear to me that while they were indeed “sick”, they had in their means and understanding the “cure”, but ignored it. When Jesus referred to the “sick”, He was referring to those who were on the outside. While many of the people Jesus focused on were victims of systems of injustice (the poor, orphans, widows, etc.), they were also sinners who were responsible for their sins. And yet Jesus did not approach these sinners with reproof but with mercy, compassion and love. Clearly, from the religious leaders he wanted them to practice the same way of life, not primarily concerned with their adherence to the letter of the law. In the end, Jesus addressed those leaders only as much as was necessary (often at their initiation), spending most of His time and energy with those He was called to.

Despite this seemingly clear and simple lesson, we find it very difficult to practice it ourselves. Sadly, so much of our time, energy and resources are invested in challenging failed models of faith that we see all around us. While prophetic voices are needed to call the Church on our very really failings and compromises, we are called primarily to be incarnational agents of mercy and compassion to those on the margins. Our corrective efforts must be first and foremost within ourselves and our own communities, allowing our lives to be a living rebuke to those who fail to follow Christ’s way.

In our passion to see the Church challenged and changed, have we blinded ourselves from our primary responsibility? Have we allowed ourselves to be distracted from our missional vocation as the Body Christ with an excessive effort at “self-improvement’?

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3 comments so far on “Jamie Arpin-Ricci

  1. Jamie Arpin-Ricci says:

    Thanks, bro.

  2. Scott says:

    Hey there Phil;

    Great observations. I think if the church truly understood this one concept it would radically change everything we do. You should check out “The Challenge of Jesus” by NT Wright.

  3. lars Rood says:

    Phil- Great thoughts. I am glad you are my friend. You are a good/great person.

    The Rood

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