Together in Christ: 'Fellowship with Unbelievers' — Luke 15:1-2

Saturday, November 2, 2024

Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people — even eating with them!
— Luke 15:1-2 NLT

Key Thought

As we look at our relationships with unbelievers, we realize there is a necessary tension between being in the world and not being corrupted by the world.  [1] The apostle John warned first-century disciples of Jesus of this tension:

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. [2]

While we don't want to be led astray by the world and its values, Jesus sent us into the world to redeem the world [3] similar to the way the Father sent Jesus into the world. [4] Our mission is to reach the world with the Good News of Jesus and invite them to become disciples. [5] We are to be salt to a world in decay and light to a world trapped in darkness.  [6] We are not to hide from the lost people of our world, but Jesus commanded us to GO into all the world and GO to all people, so we can help them become disciples of Jesus. [7]

Jesus and the apostle Paul are our two great examples of being in the world, living holy lives, loving the people trapped by the world and its desires, and leading them to salvation. Their passionate words are our reminder that our commitment is to be in the world to help the lost and broken people of the world find Jesus:

But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, "Why does he eat with such scum?"
When Jesus heard this, he told them, "Healthy people don't need a doctor — sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners."
I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don't just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved. And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. [9].

We make friends with people who are not followers of Jesus because we live in the world, and Jesus called us to lead people from the world to Him. We don't do this just as a mission to fulfill but as people shaped by Jesus and His love for all people and His desire to see them saved! [10].

[1] This language comes from Jesus' prayer for His disciples in John 17:13-16. This is a prayer of protection for them and us today as we live out our mission to reach the world for Jesus and seek to remain dedicated to the principles and mission of Jesus. See also 2 Peter 1:4, 2:20.
[2] 1 John 2:15-17.
[3] John 20:20-23.
[4] John 3:16-17.
[5] Luke 24:44-28; Acts 1:8.
[6] Matthew 6:13-16.
[7] Matthew 28:18-20.
[8] Mark 2:16–17.
[9] 1 Corinthians 10:33–11:1.
[10] John 3:16-17; 2 Peter 3:9.

Today's Prayer

O Lord, God, and Father, please use Your Holy Spirit to fashion me into a person who can live in the world, love the people of the world, and yet not be corrupted by the world. I want to love the people you made who are not following You and don't yet know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Use me, O, Lord, to reach the lost and broken and love them into fellowship with Jesus, in Whose name I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Luke 15:3-32
  • Luke 24:44-28; Acts 1:8


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Illustration of Luke 15:1-2 NLT — Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people — even eating with them!

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.