A Letter to the Confused in The Valley

Hey,

I’m sorry. I know those words don’t mean much but they seem to be all I can really say. I hate the pain I see you in. I can feel it in your text. I can feel the hurt exude from your fingertips as you type how you feel. I can taste the struggle you breath out. And I’m sorry.

Pain is disorienting. Pain is not logical. It is all feeling. Even physical pain is your brain telling you how to feel. It’s all nerves and messages. And the message is, this hurts. When we are in pain, we can’t logically tell ourselves to not feel that way. We may have every logical reason to not hurt, and yet hurt lingers. Hurt doesn’t need a logical explanation to be present, it just needs the slightest invitation. It is the guest who often is uninvited and stays much longer than asked for.

The Valley of the Shadow of Death is a real place. It’s dark, it’s damp, and it’s very real. David knew it well. And the one thing that brought Him comfort in that place was not relief from it. Sure, he wanted that. You want that. I want that for you; for myself. But it wasn’t relief, then, that he was given. He was given presence; God’s presence. “Even in The Valley of the Shadow of Death, you are with me”. That brought David comfort. Can you be comfortable in a place called the Shadow of death? Can you find rest in the Valley? I’m not sure. But I know even there, you are seen.

I see you. God sees you. Your pain is real. It is valid. It feels like death. It might actual be death. A good death or bad death? I’m not sure yet. But life nor death separates us from our God. He sees. He sees you friend. He sees. He doesn’t need you be strong. He is strength for you. What does that mean? It means at your lowest point, at the point where it all seems pointless and worthless, at the point where the thorn in your flesh seems to drive and rip more flesh than you thought possible, He is strong for you. You are not alone. And you are so loved. So loved. Even now, through your tears and your sadness and depression, He sings over you.

I don’t want you to be better right now if you can’t be. I don’t want you to be strong right now if you can’t be. I don’t want you be anything you can’t be right now. But you can always be wherever you are in God’s hands. I don’t care what you do while there, but just know it’s all in His hands. Shake, cry, mourn, wander, come back, wander again, run, fall, pray for death even; all of it is in His hands.

I know pain is confusing. Why was God silent as the Israelites suffered slavery for 420 years? Why the promise of justice then 400 years of silence before Jesus’s Advent? I don’t know. Maybe a better Christian can answer that; I’m not that person. What I do know, is that it makes no sense for a God who would give up His Son for me to not want to save me. His timing is always perplexing; but He always find us. And He has found you. He found the blind before they could see. He found the lame before they could walk. He found the lepers before they were better. He is attracted to your brokenness because that’s where His glory is seen.

So friend, I see you. I know you want to give up. In fact, you just might. You just might give up and walk away. But know this: God will never walk away from His children. Even when we make our bed in Sheol, He is there. That may not make things better right now. These truths may feel like swallowing poison. But God sees you. He will not give up on you. I only ask that you cry out, one more time. One more prayer, one prayer step, one more lament. Please. But even if you can’t, it’s ok. He is faithful when we aren’t; Jesus saved us when we couldn’t; and the Spirit prays for us when we don’t know how.

This letter is to tell you I love you. And that I see you. And that you don’t have to be anything but what you are right now. But let me end this letter when a little more truth. Yes, you are broken, sad, choosing sin, running from God and confused and hurt. But that is not all you are; in fact, none of those is who you are at all. You are loved; you are found; you are secured and rescued. You are an inheritance for the King of the Universe. You are a treasure in the eye of Father. You are called worth the blood the Son of God spilled for you. You are not your brokenness. You are not your voids, your chasms, your flaws or sins. You are God’s. Right now the eye of the Creator of all things that have ever existed sees you. He sees you.

I love you. He loves you more.

Give God Your Holey and Mitey Worship

We are all broken. All of us, fragments of pieces shattered by the fallenness of life and our own experiences and choices. We all have holes. Voids, chasms, and caverns that seem too deep and dark to fill. I’m very aware of my voids. I’m very aware of the empty spaces that occupy my soul; very aware of the holes and vacancies that I carry. And it is in this state, not in some future fixed-up, better version of me, that God tells me to come to Him. To come and worship Him.

In Mark 12:41-44 we find the story of the widow’s offering. Jesus was sitting down watching people give their money to the offering treasury when a widow with a few coins came by:

 “And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

‭‭Mark‬ ‭12:42-44‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This woman was a widow, meaning her husband had died and she therefore probably had no way of really generating income for herself. The text doesn’t say if she had children or not, but Mark is very intentional with his description of her as poor and as a widow.

Next, she is seen giving the smallest possible amount of money to give. The Amplified translation tells us that the two coins she gave equaled a mite, which was the least valuable of the Roman coin and equal to about 1/64th of a day’s wage.

So here we have a poor, husband-less woman with only two poor coins to give to the offering box. Although she gives an extremely small amount, you get the feeling that this is actually all she has to give. That she is not being stingy with her offering worship, but is actually being quite risky.

Jesus confirms this to the disciples. He not only notices that the woman gave all she had to give, but highlighted the fact that it is in this spirit that she actually gave the most! How so? Because she gave what she could. In fact, she gave all that she could. Knowing the risks, not knowing the future, probably unsure of when she would see income like that again, she gave. This widow, aware of her circumstances, aware of her shortcomings, her needs, and her holes, instead of waiting for a better fixed-up life, worshipped where she was. It was not her abundance that Jesus highlighted; it was her poverty. Her worship was only worth a mite to her and everyone else; but it was beautiful and invaluable to the onlooking Savior.

This is the image I think of when I attempt to drag myself to church most days. It’s what I try to remember as I pathetically lift my head to God after committing offensive sin against Him. It’s what I try to imagine as the pain and turmoil in my soul begs me to give up and find a way to end the suffering. I try – oh, how I try – to remember that God is not waiting for this more abundant and prosperous version of me to bring to the cross. For it was in my worse possible state, not my best, that He loved me, died for me, and saved me.

So when I think of all the things I need to work on, He says “Then worship me unfinished”. When I see how far I am from where I should be, He says “Then worship me where you are ”. When my pain and suffering feel like chains that won’t release me, He says “Then worship me in prison”. It is in the impoverished state of soul that the Lord loves to hear His children worship. Not because He is some mean God who enjoys watching His children suffer; but because He knows our fragile state and how that can often hinder us. But when we choose to worship Him where are, instead of thinking there’s more to be met before we do so, we trust Him with our all.

If you have anxiety, worship Him there, not when you worry less. If you are struggling with sin, worship Him there, not when you have your life together. If you are depressed and sad, worship Him there, not when life gets easier. If you are hurting, struggling, barely making it, it’s ok; worship Him there, not when your head is above water. This may seem hard. But it’s actually less burdensome. God is not expecting us to have it all together; that’s what Jesus is for. He wants us to trust Him where are, so that He can take us to where He is. 

Jesus knows what it’s like to have holes. Just ask Him to show you His hands and feet next time you get the chance. Our worship will often not come out of abundance. Sometimes it will and praise the Lord when it does! But even if your life is poor, for whatever reason, give Him your poverty. Give what you have to give, even if it’s a measly two coins. For God loves holey and mitey worship. 

Don’t Lie About Your Contentment

Contentment often seems like the golden snitch of life, fluttering and flying about, only being grasped by the truly worthy and the truly gifted. Which means I must be neither because although I can point to moments where I experience contentment, it has not been the undergirding current of my life.

For those lost on the Harry Potter reference, the golden snitch is a small ball played in the game of Quidditch in the Harry Potter fantasy world. It is the most important ball in the game for the game can only end once the snitch has been caught by the Seeker. And seeing as it’s the most important ball in the game, it makes sense that it is also the hardest to catch. 

Contentment often feels like the golden snitch: highly important and valuable for success but ever elusive and hard to seize. The reality is that some people actually have, or seem to have, caught this sought after prize. They walk around confident and at peace, their lives stabilized, their faith secure, and their joy fulfilled.

I’m not one of those people. I think I’ve wanted to be one of those people for while and I’ve tried to be, act and fit in with those people; but I’m not. I’m not content. I’ve experienced contentment here and there, but I cannot say contentment has colored my existence thus far. 

Instead, I have longings and desires I crave to be fulfilled and see no opportunity for such. I have wants and urges and impulses I attempt to bring to the feet of my Savior daily, all the while wondering how long, oh Lord. I experience dull soul aches and pains of past mistakes and shames that creep up nightly as my soul and mind attempt to rest. I have doubts, questions, fears, and concerns that have yet to find an answer that quiets them. This is my reality, more often than I want to admit it.

But that’s the problem, really. We don’t admit it. We think everyone else around us has contentment, and since we don’t, we feel the need to lie about it. Instead of owning up to the fact that we actually hate our singleness, or that we feel so much like a failure at being a first-time parent, or that we can’t seem to get past this sin that constantly comes back for us, we lie. We hide. Somewhere along the way we got the false message that good Christians always suffer well. That they always take their discipline on the chin, head and hands to the sky, thanking the Father for their suffering while their hearts explode with joy. 

While this may be true at times, it’s not always the case. Paul asks 3 times for his thorn to be taken. Elijah swore the Lord had left him and sentenced him to death. David fought often with his own soul over whether the Lord was actually on his side. What I appreciate most about these men and many others is the fact that they didn’t lie. They didn’t act like they weren’t in pain, in confusion, or in anger towards God. They didn’t save face to keep up with their peers. They weren’t content in their circumstances and they made it known.

We need to stop lying. God doesn’t need your strength, for He is glorified in your weakness. He’s not looking for those who struggle well; He just wants those who can admit they are struggling. God is not impressed with our ability to handle suffering. Faith pleases Him, and faith in discontentment leans on the Lord, asking, begging and pleading the blood of Jesus over their life. Sometimes the answer is to have the trial taken away; other times it’s simply to keep going. Faith, though, is not lying. It is not acting as if you like your life while bitterness secretly eats away at you. It is not posting bible verses on social media that you barely believe yourself. It is humbling yourself by casting your cares onto the Lord. Casting is admitting, not lying.

I’m thankful for my salvation. I’m grateful for what the Lord has given me. The Lord is Sovereign. He is compassionate. Abounding in steadfast love. But even in all of these truths, I can’t say I’m fully content with my life right now. I still have longings unfulfilled, desires unmet and questions about my pain that still seem unanswered. So today I admit I wish my life was different, while asking The Lord for the grace to accept the life I’ve been given. I’ve just simply decided to start talking about it. You should too. 

Race Conversations for People of Color in the Trump Era

The Trump campaign has never been on the side of people of color. And please do not push Omarosa or Ben Carson in my direction, either. There were many happy slaves that existed, as well, that don’t justify the existence of slavery. The Trump campaign assumed every black person was from the “inner city” and gave the pretentious platform promise of “what else do you have to lose?” This same administration, once in office, has not only laughed in the face of police brutality, but has also been unable, for whatever reason, to outright condemn white supremacy head on, publicly called for the firing of private citizens who have correctly used their right to the freedom of speech, and has most recently called more private citizens “sons of b******” for also correctly asserting their right to the freedom of speech. It is very evident: Trump is not for, nor has ever been, for the people of color in this country. And yes, I believe Trump is racist.

That last statement is incendiary, I know. And while I’m not too concerned with why you don’t agree, although that conclusion is definitely worthy of a conversation, my question is two-fold: how would you explain Trump’s actions to a friend or person of color, and do you know what that conversation does to said friend or person of color?

Lately the evangelical fashion trend has been to use the buzzword “racial reconciliation”, which sometimes seems like a code word for “say something without changing anything”. Regardless, I’m happy to see that there has been actual progress in seeing racial issues as gospel issues, and therefore priority issues. Lots of conversations regarding race and how race impacts us individually and corporately as a church have happened due to this “shift” and I am honestly very grateful for it.

The problem is that in these conversations, there is a rarity that both parties will end up on the same side. Now, this is not inherently the problem for all conversations need to two-sided to be considered a conversation; and sometimes those sides don’t agree. That’s human and it’s necessary for growth. But in an era where the highest office of the United States can use his position to personally and publically call for the firing, and subsequently harassment, of private citizens simply because they do not align with his personal agenda and regime, and when these private citizens are almost always persons of color, to have nothing to say, or nothing to rebuke, on the matter is not only telling but hurtful.

People of color and white persons enter into race conversations at different starting points. The way I see it, white persons can enter into the conversation from the starting point of an onlooker, a researcher, or a student. The onlooker is not interested in emotionally or even deeply connecting with the issue; they simply want to know what is going on. The researcher sees the issue and wants to gather information on it in order to be able to discern and formulate his or her own conclusion on the issue. And the student is simply there to gain knowledge with no intended end goal other than education.

People of color do not get to enter the conversation from this starting point. On the contrary, we are born into the conversation. We do not get to choose a vantage point from which to look at the issue because, in reality, we are inside the issue. Conversations of race for people of color are not simply relaxed rhetoric thrown around for sake of conversation but are, most often, verbalized cries and pleas to see the pain that this issue brings us. When white persons hear Trump call Colin Kaepernick an SOB, they call him stupid; when I hear Trump say that, I call him dangerous. 

Coming into the conversation as an onlooker, a researcher or a student isn’t an issue, for me. White persons were not born having to realize or see their color, and that is not a personal fault. But what matters more to me is not how you enter the conversation, but what you do once you are there and what you do after. So often conversations of race turn into historical debates about how much racism used to be a problem and how much “better” we are now. So instead of it being a time where humility and compassion can be employed to talk about a serious issue, it ends up being a battle of who paid attention more in their white-washed history class. And regardless of the outcome, the person of color generally spends a significant amount of emotional energy trying to be gracious with “stupid questions”, rebuff against skewed points of history, and just generally all around try to not look like the “angry black person” to try to preserve some form of credibility. Simply put, people of color often feel the burden to have to prove our pain to our white brothers and sisters and that is extremely taxing.

I wish these conversations were laced with more humility. I wish more people came to learn and empathize instead of coming to “well, what about…” me to death. I wish people could call a spade, a spade and call racism, racism. I wish we could all see that Trump is not only an idiot, but is in fact extremely dangerous. I wish the church spoke more about this, decisively and definitively. I wish Americans could see the hypocrisy in wanting to fight for rights of cake bakers and photographers while supporting the skewering of those who take a knee during the national anthem. I wish America was actually the America so many of my white brothers and sisters believe it was supposed to be, instead of the America it’s always been to people of color.

In the era of Trump, conversations of race for people of color are hard. Not that they have never been hard, but the hurdle seems somewhat higher now. We don’t debate to win; we debate to survive. We argue for our own safety. Criticizing America isn’t about disrespect, it is about personal safety. It is about holding this country accountable to being finally the land of the free. We show you our pain, not so that it can put in a museum and walked by as you read the excerpt next to it, but so that you see this issue has a face. That this issue has a son, a daughter, a brother and sister. Conversations on race are not about winning, for people of color. They are about living. 

As the Waves Crash, Tell The Truth

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I remember this one time I went to the beach with a friend. I wasn’t feeling particularly well but decided to go anyway. So we drove down the highway to edge of the Georgia coast, parked the car and strolled towards the ocean. I decided to go ahead and get in the water after a few minutes of letting the sun bake my melanin well-done. As I began to get into the water, I felt the smoothness of the waves that seemed to lift me up and set me back down as they passed through me. After enjoying God’s creation for some time, I decided to head back to shore. As I’m doing that awkward swim-wade-walk thing you do when the water is not deep enough to swim but not swallow enough to walk normally, I remember a wave coming out of nowhere and crashing into my back. Normally, waves may just push you a little bit, your friends would laugh at you for looking foolish and you get back to the shore with a mouth full of saltwater. But, being sick, this wave basically almost killed me. Ok, so probably not killed me, but it did hurt. And it did actually knock the air out of me. After I composed myself a bit, I was able to make it back to shore but had to rest for a while. It’s funny how the same wave that once felt like a gentle hand that carried me over the ocean floor could in the next moment turn on me and become a hard shove to my fragile body. Waves can carry; but they can also crash.

Lately, the waves of life have been crashing against me hard. They have come in the form of crippling fear and intense hopelessness. Both realities are caused by believing in the lies of the enemy and both seem to crash hard every day. The fear has mainly affected my sleep. I lie awake at night wondering if someone, or something, is out there. Waiting. Lurking. Out to get me. It keeps me up at night, affects my rest, and causes deep senses of condemnation and sadness as I feel like a failure every morning. Shouldn’t I be able to get past this? Why is my faith so weak? What is wrong with me?

The hopelessness stems from the false belief. It tells me that I’ll always be alone, and that its my fault. It tells me I’ll never get a good night’s sleep again. It accuses me of not having enough faith and yells that I’ll always let God down. It foreshadows a future where my sin causes shame and disappointment. It tells me life will never get better and that there is no hope to have. 

Lies. All lies. Obvious lies. Subtle lies. Attractive lies. Ugly lies. Why are lies so easy to believe? Because, generally, they match how our flesh views the circumstances we are in. These lies may point out a part of the truth, but they never tell the full story. Being single does sometimes mean being lonely, but being single does not equal hopelessness. The dark can be scary and could be full of threats, but none of those threats are stronger than the God I say I believe in. Why can’t I see those truths? Because my eyes are on myself and my circumstances and not, instead, on the true promises of God.

For my hopelessness, God has promised me a hope in Jesus Christ. He says my singleness is a gift, not an issue to despair over (1 Cor. 7:7). He says that I have everything I need for life and godliness in Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:3), and that He uses ever single event in my life for His glory and my good (Romans 8:28). Jesus came to give hope, and if I am given Jesus Christ, then there is nothing else needed that my Father would not give me (Romans 8:32).

For my fear, the Lord is a shield (Psalm 28:7; Psalm 33:20). He does not give a Spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). He is the glory and the lifter of my head (Psalm 3:3) . He gives rest to His children and protects them as they sleep (Psalm 4:8). They have no reason to fear the terror by night, or the arrows by day, or the pestilence that stalks in the dark (Psalm 91:5-6). The Lord provides armor to fight the enemy. And Jesus has disarmed the powers of this world (Colossians 2:15) and has overcome the world (John 16:33).

These are the truths I have try to tell myself as the waves crash into my back. They are the truths I try to gurgle up as the water sometimes seems to fill my lungs. They are the truths I cling to when the enemy wants to knock me off the solid rock that I hold onto for dear life. They are not truths I have held onto well, always, but they are truths none the less. Even now as I write this, I can hear the lies of the accuser telling me my faith is weak and that I don’t truly believe these verses that I quote. And maybe thats true, somewhat; but it’s not the full story. In Christ, there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). When I am faithless, he is still faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). My faith, as small and weak as it may be, still allows me to see power of God (Matthew 17:20). He is Truth; and Truth always outweighs lies. Lies aesthetically hold weight but when placed on the scale next to truth, always comes up extremely lacking.

The crashing waves are moments to remind yourself of the truth. The enemy uses the waves to disrupt you, disorient you, and to destroy you. But the Lord allows the waves to crash into us so that we can crash into Him, the solid Rock. He does not allow them to overwhelm us, even if He does allow them to crash into us. We may be submerged, but He will never let us drown. He knows we are dust, and we have a sympathetic High Priest in Heaven named Jesus Christ who sees our trials, who is concerned for us, and who asks us to cast our cares on Him. So tell the truth. Our Savior still saves. Even as the waves crash.

My Struggle To Believe That God Is “for” Me

I struggle with believing that God is going to disappoint me. Years of unanswered prayers, current struggles I’ve wished long gone, pain and discomfort I fear will linger long until eternity I have allowed to shape me into a person who wrestles with the manifestation of God’s goodness.

I know He is good. I theologically and personally assert, defend, and lean on that truth. But experientially, in my day-to-day, the choices I make to not choose Him but some lesser god who does not exist nor can provide for me shows I truly struggle to believe in His goodness. And that reveals a deeper cavern of disbelief that I see in myself: I struggle to believe that God is for me.

God being for me means I wrestle with how I view the way God deals with me. I struggle and wonder if His actions on my behalf are for my good. This is not an uncommon struggle. Elijah feared this in the valley on the run from Jezebel; David pondered this many nights on the run from King Saul and even his own son; the disciples thought this in the middle of a storm that Jesus somehow found the ability to sleep through. And our forefather and mother, Adam and Eve, thought in the same vein as they chose to listen to a created tempter than their Soveriegn Creator and Father. Like parents, like children.

Romans 8 does a magnificent job to dispel this fear lingering inside every Christian. Verse 32 states this:

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:32‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Paul is basically saying “Y’all. The Father, who has been eternally in community and in love with His Son, gave up said Son to you and with Him, all the rights and privileges of His Sonship. So, what’s the issue, guys?” And it is true; the Father gave His most valued love, His Son, to us, God the Son, Jesus Christ. There is not a thing on Earth or Heaven above, real or imagined, that could ever, nor will ever, come close in comparison to the Son of God. For He is God, eternally begotten, fully God, Savior of the World, the only wise God and King. And He, obeying the will of the Father, offered Himself up for us, to us, so that through Him we could be called children of God if we believe.

So, we have been given Jesus, the only answer to our sinful condition which is, by far, the worse thing about us and that has happened to us. If God is so loving to not leave us here, why would we doubt His love? Why would I doubt his love? It’s because of my disbelief. It is because of the heart of sin inside of me that has been dealt with and requires dealing with daily. I worry because I don’t believe. I am anxious and fearful because I don’t believe rightly. I’m not saying there is some magic faith that happens when I simply choose to not disbelieve; I am saying, though, that if I did believe, as the Bible tells me to, my struggle might be more victorious than not.

Either way, God is faithful. Even when we are faithless, God is faithful. God is for me. His plans for me are for a future and hope. He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. He is able to keep me unto the end. And He, foremost of all, is for me. And He has proven all of this is the Person and work of Jesus Christ. I believe, Father; help my unbelief.

The Gospel is For Losers

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The Gospel is for losers. That’s the whole point of this blog. It’s probably the only thing I have to write, actually. The gospel being for losers is good for 2 reasons: (1) We are all losers and (2) losing is the only way to be saved

Yes, I just called you a loser. Because you are. Don’t think so? It’s probably because you are comparing yourself to other people, those worse losers, on some sliding scale that eerily always seems to work out in your favor with you ending up on top. But we know any scale that always ends up the way you want it to is probably rigged for you to win. Meaning, then, that you aren’t a winner, but instead, (ta-da!) a loser. And the Bible, in its normal tradition of ruining the inflated thoughts you have of yourself, agrees with this statement. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And God’s glory is the standard by which we are judged. Meaning, we all lost. If you were born human, you were born at a deficit. In fact, you were born spiritually dead. Dead in your sins, far away from God, considered an enemy and at enmity with God. We all are born clear across a chasm so wide that no human effort, human ingenuity, or human desire could help us cross it. We are all born losers. And this would be the worst news in the world if not for the God-man, Jesus Christ, the only winner ever born on Earth. This God-man, in fact, is not only the only winner ever born (and the first-fruits of many other winners to come) but Jesus was a winner who lost for losers. Jesus Christ, perfect in every way, fully God and fully man, Son of God incarnate, took the biggest and most major “L” possible for the very people who earned this gigantic “L”, namely, you and me. And He took this loss and turned it into the most beautiful, the most glorious, the most loving and fierce win the earth will EVER know. Jesus Christ died the death of loser sinners and offered them, in exchange, His glorious win. Romans 5 shows us that Jesus gave us His righteousness in exchange for our sinfulness. Jesus essentially says “Here’s my W; let me take that L”. Notice that, though, we do not “win” this win. It is given to us. It is not earned, it is not warranted or deserved. For losers are, by definition, not deserving of a win. No, this life-saving, life-changing win is given to us, to those who believe that Jesus is the God-man, the Son of God, the only Way for salvation. The Winner (and Creator, Upholder, and Sustainer) of the Universe gave us losers a way to have a relationship with Him, the most coveted prize in the Universe.

So since Jesus died for losers, being a loser is the main requirement to receive salvation. And this theme of losing to win is straight from the mouth of Christ (sorry, Fantasia). In Mark 2 finds Jesus eating with what the Bible calls “tax collectors and sinners”. In fact, just a few verses above he calls a known tax collector to follow Him. The Pharisees enter into the scene and question who Jesus decides to keep company with. There is a stark difference in public opinion and personal perception among the people in this room. The Pharisees thought very highly of themselves and I’m sure the tax collectors and the sinners probably felt the opposite about themselves. But I’m guessing both parties were intrigued at the fact that Jesus was found in this space with the people present. After the Pharisees asks why Jesus would eat with such losers, Jesus utters what should be considered the loser anthem. In verse 17, Jesus tells the Pharisees “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners”. Meaning, Jesus didn’t come for people who say all they do is win, win, win no matter what (great song, though). No, He didn’t come for self-proclaimed winners. He came for those who knew they were losers. Not just societal and cultural losers, but losers at their core. Sinners. He came for those who knew they were dead and needed life. He came for those who knew they were far away from God because of decisions they had made yet wanted to be brought closer. He came for the broken, the hurt, the injured, the outcasted, the needy, the dead. He came for those who knew they needed someone to come for them. The problem with this message in our very American, winning is life, (#winning) mindset is that it is directly opposed to how the gospel says we should come. Salvation is for those who know they need to be saved and those who have faith that Jesus can and wants to do just that. Those who believe they can earn their salvation don’t think they need to be given it, and therefore miss it. But as stated earlier, compared to God, which is the only standard that matters and is eternal, we all fall short. And we all lose. But that is GREAT news! Because that means all of us are candidates for salvation. Jesus said the first shall be last, and the last shall be first. Jesus’s messages were not simply cultural messages meant to help the “less than” feel better about themselves. Instead, He hung out with the “less than” to show all of us, rich and poor, young and old, male and female, that next to God we are ALL less than but that our being less than did not stop Him from finding us, rescuing us, and calling us to Himself. So it is only in Christ that we are more than conquerors. We go from losers dead in our sins to being called children, found, and His. In Christ, we overcome. In Christ, we conquer. In Christ, and only in Christ, we win.