Jesus and the Greeks

This just in…apparently there are a few college campuses where there is more than just studying going on. No seriously - I've heard rumors that there might even be partying!

I know, I know - you probably imagined college life as going to classes, studying, and occasionally playing Wii with friends, right? But after seeing the ABC Family (ahem) show called GREEK, I think there's just a little more than academic pursuit happening.

It almost seems as though the studious side of college is just a bothersome requirement that is getting in the way of elevated blood alcohol and "I'm not sure what happened last night" experiences.

So yeah, none of this is probably news to you…in fact, you probably have heard of or know people who are experiencing a mini-version of the 'partay' environment right now - which for Christians brings up an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, you've found peace, hope, and purpose in your relationship with Jesus, which is why you aren't looking for it in a bottle or warm body. You've been freed from the destructive lie that getting drunk, using drugs, and having sex will somehow bring you happiness and help you escape from your frustrations and stress. That's why believers who "get it" should not be into the alcohol, drugs and sex party scene.

But that's also where the problem is. In my opinion, the folks who do partake in the drug-induced festivities are also the ones who are the most desperate to hear the gospel! They are looking and searching and hurting… But if they have little-to-no relationship with any Christians, how will they ever hear the incredible news that there's another way to live life that is not only guilt-free, but also freedom-driven???

Did you know that there were Greeks back in Jesus' day? I know - duh - the people from Greece, right? Well, yes - but there was also a Frat-type crowd that was partying long before America was even a nation.

And Jesus reached out to them. Here's the account:

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector's booth. "Follow me and be my disciple," Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.

 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with such scum?"

When Jesus heard this, he said, "Healthy people don't need a doctor - sick people do." Then he added, "Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: 'I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.' For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners" (Matthew 9:9-13).

Did you know that Jesus was accused of hanging out with people of questionable reputation? No, not because he got drunk and lived an immoral lifestyle. It was because He spent time with people whose lives were messed up by bad behavior choices and offered them hope and forgiveness. As you read in the passage above, the religious leaders of the time were shocked that someone claiming to be God would spend His time with the ones who seemed to be rebelling against Him the most.
But Jesus didn't hang with them to party… He was with them to build relationships. He wanted to be in their lives so that when the party was over and the emptiness, pain, loneliness, and isolation returned with the force of an emotional freight train, they had somewhere to turn. That's why He told the religious folks this:

For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.

What did He mean when He said He came to "call" those who know they are sinners? If you look at Jesus' life while He walked this earth, He called sinners to respond to the amazing message of the gospel – to discover the forgiveness, acceptance, and purpose that could be found only in Him.

And isn't that what we are supposed to be doing as well? If we are Christ followers, then we should follow His example and reach out to those who don't have their act together and their lives cleaned up! And not in a judgmental "If you stop drinking, Christ will love you" kind of way. Rather, we need to share with them the true message of the gospel: that we are all sinners, undeserving of God's grace and in desperate need of a Savior. Out of love for us, God sent His Son, Jesus, to earth to live a perfect life, die in our place, pay for our sins, and rise again, so that we could have an abundant life with Him now and an eternal life with Him in heaven.

So am I saying that we should go out and party with the best of them? NO - but neither should we build a "Christian friends ghetto." Get to know those who are trying to escape through partying and be there for them when the reality sets in that all the lies they believed about sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll are a short trip to depression and disillusionment.
Who are the Greeks in your life that need the message of eternal life?
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action

Talk with your friends about why some teens feel the need to pursue the alcohol/drugs/sex scene. Then using their personal answers, steer the conversation toward Christ and how He is the only true quencher of spiritual thirst. Pray for God to show you if there are particular teens at your school or in your online community who you should build a deeper relationship with because they are in desperate need of the gospel message.

Accelerant: Feed the Fire

"For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners."' But wisdom is proved right by her actions." Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent (Matthew 11:18-20).

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).