Have you ever felt like you should distance yourself from certain people to make it clear that you do not associate yourself with their behavior? You’ve probably felt that way.
But Jesus certainly didn’t act that way.
One of the criticisms aimed at Jesus was “this man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2). He was so close to sinful people that he was accused of condoning the behavior that earned them the “sinner” label.
But that’s not the whole picture. Thanks to our first parents, this entire world was labeled “sinful.” All of creation was under penalty of death. But Jesus chose to dwell among us anyway—not to communicate that sin is okay but to take the sin away.
He so closely associated with sinners that our label actually transferred onto him. He suffered and died as a result. And now out of his resurrection, there is a new label affixed to every repentant heart that gets filled up with forgiveness: Child of God.
As God’s child, think about all the people you’ll encounter this next day. You will stumble upon some people who have earned labels because of their past behavior. Most people have labels that you don’t even know about.
Would Jesus associate himself with them? Absolutely. His presence does not mean he approves of sin. It means he is present to administer grace that leads to repentance, forgiveness, and life to the full.