It is scary to read in the gospels how Jesus addressed the Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes. These are the categories of the well educated, the theologically superior people, the aristocratic religious elite. These were viewed as those who understood the law, lived by the law, and were the instructors of the people.
When Jesus comes along, he begins to unravel the web of deception that had been perpetrated on the people. Throughout the gospels, we read of how they attempted to trap Jesus in some debate and then make an accusation against him. If you read the questions, they were tough ones. Probably they had impaled many on their sharp sword of reason and debate. However, Jesus was never trapped. His answers were astounding and the people reveled in his wisdom. Many a time the Pharisees walked away bewildered by his sagacity.
Ever so much more the trapping attempts escalated in the final weeks of his earthly ministry. What is the greatest command? Do you pay taxes to Caesar? By what authority do you do these things? On and on the attacks came. Finally, his answers foiled them and they gave up trying to trap him in debate and, instead, switched to plots of murdering him.
The big problem with Jesus is that he does not fit the religious mold, but he is the Son of God. He does not fit the pattern of holiness; yet is the Most High in the flesh. He associates with the rabble, the outcast, the down and out, the sinner, and loves them, but his approach does not fit the shunning and abstention of fellowshipping with such types that was and is practiced. The religious avoided such people for fear of being tainted; yet Jesus fellowshipped with them hoping to infect them with grace.
I think our fears are based in our weaknesses. We are afraid of the sinner, because we are concerned that we do not fall prey to sin. So, we avoid the sinner for fear of being polluted and falling. We might start doing their things to our destruction. Jesus had no fear of that. We also, because we have lived in such legalism, are afraid of what people will say. Even the sinner likes to accuse, saying we were in a bar, or a place of questionable reputation. More so will the rumor mill work in church circles if one is seen or reported to be fellowshipping with certain folks.
In the book, The Gospel Blimp, Joseph Bayley related the story of people who wanted to reach the lost. They bought a blimp and used it to drop leaflets about salvation on their community. There was the big fundraiser, the training for the crews, the flying of the Blimp, the gospel bombs prepared and on and on it went. The town became aggravated with the litter of gospel tracts clogging the roads, yards, and roofs. Finally, one couple became disenchanted and quit the Gospel Blimp Outreach. They decided to just talk to their neighbor and invite them for a cookout. The Gospel Blimp team thought they had backslidden, but, lo and behold, their neighbors began meaningful conversation through the friendship and eventually became people of faith too. You see, Go, Love, Serve works when we love our neighbor as ourself.
When we try to insulate our faith, we end up isolating our faith. When we try to protect ourselves in cloister, we have set in motion our death and the death of the faith. There is an adventure out there for us. It is being in places where the world is either entertaining themselves or scraping an existence in poverty, homelessness, or the sad world of drugs. High society and low society are lost without Jesus. If we, the saints, are pharisees, we will not touch them, won't speak to them. If we, the saints, are Jesus Followers, we will engage them, speak to them, and see what God might do.
Sometimes Strange People are God's chosen.