Here I need to address in detail one of the issues that many Christians reading this book will find most challenging. We are to imitate Jesus by being intentional about developing intimate fellow- ship with sinners. This means that we are to make the effort to build such close relationships with unbelievers, regardless of their beliefs or way of life, that we delight to eat and drink at one another’s tables and visit joyfully in one another’s homes. This will mean that we are going to get to know people who are considered by some of our churches to be sinners—the kind of people that God-fearing people should despise.
Why should we welcome sinners and unbelievers joyfully, and why should they welcome us joyfully? Every day of our lives Jesus comes to each of us in our rebellion, moral failures, lack of love, and our reluctance to honor him. Even though we have cold hearts, every day he asks us to welcome him into our lives and into our homes. Every day he says to each one of us:
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Rev. 3:20) \
How poorly we understand the gospel and the grace of God to us when we think we ought not to have “sinners” in our homes, or that we ought to keep ourselves and our children away from the homes of obvious sinners. Fellowship with sinners is the gospel. There is no other gospel of Christ.
- Jerram Barrs, Learning Evangelism from Jesus, p. 92, 93