Pounced on by Pharisees for Partying with Prodigals? Here’s why that’s a good sign.

If you are reaching the kind of people Jesus reached, you’ll get the kind of opposition Jesus got. It’s just true.

In the good news stories about Jesus, religious people would watch and wait for Jesus to make a mistake so they could pounce on him, accusing him of wrongdoing. And what kind of mistakes would Jesus make, you might ask? Oh, you know, just the standard ones: healing a guy with a debilitating disease, restoring a lame man, casting out a demon. You know, those kinds of mistakes.

And then there was the most awful error of all: Jesus’ seeming indifference to the lifestyles and beliefs of people he’d party with–people with nasty reputations, law-breakers, compromising collaborators, deviants and crooks, disgusting wretches (as they were seen). You know, the kind of people we usually don’t want hanging around the kids.

If you take his mission seriously, and begin to love on and connect with people far away from Jesus, speaking their language and hanging in their hoods, you will draw fire from folks who figure you’ve gone off the deep end. You’ll raise the ire of the very same people who found Jesus so off-putting. (And the same ones who ended up killing him, I might add.)

It’s par for the missional course. We should expect it. In fact, more than expect it: if we aren’t getting any push back, we should be wondering who we are missing–who we are failing to reach. Because if we never face opposition from the religiously uptight, there’s a pretty strong chance that we are not taking the risks necessary to reach the people that no one else is reaching. Mission done in Jesus’ way raises religious red flags.

So don’t be disheartened by opposition, when you are loving those Jesus loved. Don’t be discouraged by heat when it comes from people who have never stepped out from their cozy cliques. Don’t be fazed by the voices who claim purity when they’ve never stepped out into the mud to help those who are stuck.

Just keep loving as Jesus loved.

Keep connecting as Jesus connected.

Keep sharing your life with others as Jesus shared his life with you.

And let’s see the prodigals return, the lost found, the broken healed, and the outcasts included.

And what’s that sound we hear over the din of the prodigal party or the murmur of Pharisaic disapproval?

Only the voice of Jesus, cheering us on.