I believe one of the biggest challenges generational Christians face is internalizing the truth that Jesus came to save sinners. I know this was the case for me. I grew up in the world of church and in a subculture that was religious and somewhat legalistic. I was a “good kid,” and I wanted to be accepted by the people who surrounded me, but I had no idea that I was missing out on one of the greatest hallmarks of Jesus’ ministry. I think this is why I have often been drawn to the story of Peter, who was originally called Simon. In Hebrew, his name was pronounced “Shimon,” and it means “to hear or obey.” Since monikers in the Bible are often associated with personal characteristics, it’s safe to say that Peter was the guy who always tried to do the right thing. He was zealous for his Jewish faith, and he was also the “big brother” to the other disciples. Since he was quite a bit older than his fellow Jesus-followers, he felt a sense of responsibility to them, and they looked to him as a kind of father figure. It seems he prided himself on being “above the fray,” and he sought to excel at fitting into the religious culture around him. He worked hard to be the “good guy,” and he had a difficult time accepting the fact that Christ came to call everyone — even those who were messed up and radically different — to a relationship with Himself.
Friend, my prayer is that God will touch your heart with the power of the good news that He came to save those who are in the deepest, darkest places. Good behavior is not a prerequisite for receiving His help; rather, Jesus walks into the middle of the most sinful situations to display the reach of His unconditional love. He doesn’t shy away from people who are in the pits, but He embraces whoever is wretched, distasteful, and sinful in the eyes of religion. Even better, He fills your heart with the power to love those who seem the least worthy, and by welcoming them to your midst, you also welcome Him.