He Hung Out With Sinners

Thursday, June 23, 2011

**This post is part of the current series "Who Was Jesus?  Practical Ways to Teach Our Children About Who Christ IS"  You can find the entire series linked up here when we are done.**

My dad was famous for saying things like...  "You are known by the company you keep" and "If you lie with dogs, you're gonna get fleas" or "You can't roost with the owls and fly with the eagles".  He was MORE famous for throwing those little quips at me or one of my sisters, clanging a wooden spoon against a pot, and flicking the light on at about noon, when trying to get some "beauty" sleep after making some less than honorable choices in staying out late the night before.

During any political campaign, we can often see candidates attempting to disgrace their opponent by associating them with individuals deemed by some to be of questionable character.  Guilt by association.  As adults, there are probably a list of certain individuals that we can all think of that we would never be caught hanging out with for fear of what it might say about our morality. 

Yet.... Christ's life was filled with different types of associations that were questioned by his disciples...
Mark 2:15-17
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. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
So what about the old saying? If a man is known by the company he keeps, then does that make Jesus a sinner? What we do know about Christ is that He had a heart for those who were deemed of questionable moral conduct by society. He sought out the sinner who was rejected by society. But no matter the company He kept, He always loved, He always accepted, and He always pointed to the Father. But He never sinned as a result of befriending the sinner.

So how do we teach our children, especially our older children to make the right choices in the midst of sin. How do we teach our children to model Christ in this way? How do we teach them to stand up to peer pressure at certain times in their lives, and to be willing to face rejection and ridicule for making the right choice?

Here are a few suggestions...
1.  Pray for your child. 
Outloud.  In front of them.  At dinner, at bedtime, whenever, wherever.  There is something very powerful about your child hearing you pray for them.

2.  Help build your child's self esteem and confidence through different activities
Even if your child is not in sports or clubs, you can praise him or her for making the right choices.  It's never too late to start!

3.  Help your child understand unconditional love. 
Tell them that you will ALWAYS love them - no matter what and constantly remind them that there is nothing that they can do that will make you stop loving them, but that when they make a bad choice, there will be consequences. 

4.  Get to know your child's friends and their parents. 
There is a lot to be said about what kind of choices a child will make based on what kind of upbringing he has.  You are not going to know, unless you make the move to meet the parents. 

5.  Ask them about children who they consider "of questionable character". 
There are kids who they deem "wild" or "crazy" or "poor" just like the kids that are popular.  And when talking to them about who hangs out with who - you can discuss how to handle situations that come up.  Things like bullying, cheating, stealing, etc.  There is also no reason why these children shouldn't be invited to birthday parties, outings, or to come over and hang out.  Remember, Jesus always pointed to the Father.

6.  Give them a plan on how to get out of a bad situation. 
I can remember going over to a friend's house when I was in 8th grade.  I had been friends with this person since elementary school and my parents knew and trusted her parents, so they dropped me off without any questions to spend the night.  When I walked in, I discovered that not only were her parents not there, but there were high school kids there who were watching "bad" movies and making "bad" choices.  But there were lots of (questionable) people there and I remember feeling trapped.  I didn't want to risk looking "uncool" by calling my dad and ratting them out.  But I also was not aware of the many risks associated with just being there.  I was not prepared to handle a situation like this, and had no idea how to get out of it.  As a parent, we need to make plans with our children on how to handle social situations.  Had my parents talked to me about calling with some type of "code" I would have called in a heartbeat - but had I called my dad and said - Can you come get me, I forgot my pillow...  he wouldn't have had a clue what I really meant. 
Father God, I pray for my children as they face difficult peer situations.  I pray for my children's friends that come into their lives.  I pray that they will be unwavering in You.  I pray that the only opinion they care about is Yours and that when they face peer pressure that they feel greater pressure from YOU.  I pray that you carry them in Your hands always, but do not shelter them from the sick and the sinful. Teach them to be lights Lord, and lead them to make choices that glorify you....

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Richele said...
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