"sinners"

Sunday at church we were studying Mark 2:13-17, The Calling of Levi. Something jumped off the page at me and I just keep thinking about it. In verse 15, the word sinners is in quotation marks. Either I've never noticed that before (highly possible) or maybe my spirit was quickened by it, I don't really know yet. Anyway, Mark is talking about when Jesus ate dinner with the tax collectors and his disciples and how it offended many of the righteous people. In that time the tax collectors were the lowest of the lowest. People would have rather sat next to a person with leprosy than mingle with tax collectors, let alone share a meal. In Middle Eastern culture, sharing a meal is a very intimate thing so for Jesus to not only talk to the tax collectors but to eat with them... unfathomable and highly damaging to one's reputation.

OK, so back to the whole sinners in quotations thing- It was as if, dare I say it, Mark was being a bit sarcastic. Mark starts verse 15 like this "While Jesus was having dinner at Levi's house, many tax collectors and 'sinners' were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him." The Pharisees (teachers of the law) were appalled and asked (verse 16) "Why does he (Jesus) eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" When Jesus heard this (verse 17), he replied, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

So Jesus' statement really got me thinking about something someone said to me one time. When this was said I was very, very ill. A sweet and well meaning person came to visit me in the hospital and asked me to confess any hidden sin in my life because more than likely it is what was making me sick and until I get rid of sin I will not be healthy. Well, I immediately started pushing that button on my morphine pain pump and asked if this person would just pray for me and then leave. I was polite, although a bit frustrated and I took what was said with a grain of salt. While I believe that sin can cause sickness and all sorts of other things I do not believe my UC is caused by some hidden sin I refuse to give up.

Let me clarify something: of course I have sin in my life. I am a sinner, no way around that. When I die and go to heaven I will finally and truly sinless, but not until then. Otherwise, why in the world would I need God? Unfortunately, our human nature is seriously flawed and like it or not, we are sinners. However, I do like to think of myself as a "tasteful" sinner, as a friend of mine put it recently. "Tasteful" sin doesn't include the biggies like murder, adultery, theft, etc...
It is more like the little white lies you tell to save face, or the gossip you indulge in now and then. Anger, pride or envy and jealousy, might be classified as "tasteful" too. Gluttony, to an extent, could even be one. I try to live my life by the Golden Rule, 10 Commandments and whatever else the Bible says. I try to right the wrongs I make, confess and apologize when I screw up. Although, my husband will tell you I'm never wrong. I try not to lie or get caught up in gossip but I am human therefore I sin.

Now- if sin were the cause of all sickness then NO ONE would be healthy. Can I get an amen up in here? While I do believe sin brings consequences and can manifest as illness as well as other physical ailments I don't think sickness is directly related to sin all the time. If there is an issue in your life that is creating a very unhealthy environment (i.e. alcoholism, gluttony, drug use, worry) it will affect you physically and mentally given enough time but sometimes people just get sick because we live in an imperfect world.

Do I think sin caused my UC? No, probably not. Am I sinless? Nope! So why am I dealing with a chronic illness? I don't know, really, maybe because I am human living in a fallen world with a body not meant for eternal life? All I know is that God loves me, Jesus saved me and I do my best to live accordingly. When Jesus saved me he gave me this thing called grace. It's awesome because I know when I mess up, he still loves me. I try to keep this in mind and let it flow out of me and into others. None of us are perfect or better than another. That's just how it is.

What I do know is that God intends for me to live fruitfully and abundantly. He could heal me with the snap of his fingers or he can heal me through medicine and doctors or he may choose to heal me when I die. I really don't care which way he chooses, I just want to be the best I can in whatever situation I find myself in. I've been given a 2nd chance with the meds and care I've received and that's good enough for me. I would welcome the snap of his fingers, don't get me wrong, but if I am in this place for a reason then I will rise to the challenge.


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