Along the way, Jesus came across Matt, who was a “collection agent” for a gang running a protection racket. Jesus said, “Follow me,” and so Matt did. And then Jesus went to Matt’s house to a dinner party for all the gang bangers and hookers. The big-steeple church folk saw this and asked Jesus’ followers why he kept company with that lot. When it got back to Jesus, he said, “Healthy people go to the doctor even when they don’t need to while the sick people can’t afford one even when they’re desperate. Don’t bother me until you figure out what it means to care about someone besides yourself. I’m not interested in pretentious folk, just real people.
It doesn’t matter what your business is. Caring about people other than yourself is what determines whether the business you’re in is worthwhile, at least as far as Jesus is concerned.
As far as Jesus is concerned, it doesn’t even matter that your business isn’t legitimate according to the “right” people – if you’re doing it to help those in need. The wrong people end up doing the wrong things, not because they are evil, but because they have been designated wrong people by the right people and stripped of any other options.
I’ll never forget the evening in the soup kitchen when one of the big-steeple church people kept saying to those going through the soup line, “We’re here to help you people.” And one of the people in the soup kitchen line kept saying, “We’re not, ‘you people.’ We’re just people. And you might be one of us next week.” Which do you suppose Jesus would have identified as the “sinner”? And, at the end of the evening, truth be told, which one of them do you think went home in a state of blessed assurance?
Being “good” according to Jesus isn’t what you are according to your social or economic position. It’s not a matter of whether you have a job or a criminal record. It’s a matter, in any given moment, what you do, and whether you can see the person opposite you in the soup kitchen as “you people” or “one of us.”