“This man is the friend of sinners.” Luke 15:2
The speakers at a Power & Love conference a few years ago empowered us with messages of God’s love and the worthiness of Jesus, so that we could be sent out and demonstrate His power and love wherever we went. We were taught to be unafraid of people and unapologetic in our approach to them. “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live it.” (Psalm 24:1) Everyone we meet was created by God, redeemed by Christ, and is borrowing air that God gives them to stay alive. We don’t need to feel like we’re trespassing when we ask them if they’d like prayer.
I approached one woman who was walking with a limp in Panera and asked her politely if I could pray for her. She was upset: “I have my own religion and I’m offended by you and think that you should ask people before praying in the future!” I didn’t feel like it was my place to point out that I had asked, so I just smiled at her and told her to have a nice day. It’s okay to experience rejection for Jesus’ sake!
The day after the conference, my wife and I were walking near our house when I spotted a woman through the pine trees who was sitting on her back porch smoking a cigarette. I raised my voice to say, “Hi, how are you?” She replied, “I just moved here to be close to my mom because my two brothers have died in the last six months and I lost my job in Chicago.”
I led the way through the trees up onto her porch. I told her how sorry I was and that God loved her even though these bad things happened and we wanted to pray for her if that would be alright. She was more than willing. As we prayed, tears started to come as the presence of God rested on her. When the prayer time was over and we had invited her to church she was amazed. “Think about it, I just decided to come out here and you were walking past at exactly the right time.”
Jesus is the friend of sinners. Let’s open our eyes and our hearts and not be afraid to bring His love and power to those around us.