Those Who Need It Most

I don’t know how it happens, but it is almost a certainty. I would host a youth group event, retreat, or lock-in, and they would find each other. Two people who had never met before would have similar backgrounds, and like moths to a flame, they would find each other. One experience comes to my memory. Independent of each other, I had two families call and ask if I would let their children come on our weekend retreat. Their children were acting up at home and in school, and they thought some rustic living and role models would help. I agreed; what harm could a few more kids be, and the more, the merrier.

On a bus ride to our local church camp, I couldn’t help but think, ‘These two boys should steer clear of each other.’ Yet, within thirty minutes of arriving, they had found each other like long-lost friends. The rest of the weekend was a whirlwind of chaos, with broken skylights and hurt feelings to mend.
Why? The plausible answer is that two outsiders with no friends saw kindred spirits and decided it was better to be together than alone. Those same kindred spirits recognized that causing mayhem got the attention of adults, and who wouldn’t like a little destruction? Two birds with one stone.
Looking back, even in the moments following, I don’t resent the things that happened. These boys were all dealing with the struggles of adolescence, the desire to fit in, and dysfunctional upbringings… they had internal struggles, but that doesn’t mean they were irredeemable. I realized this is an expected result: birds of a feather flock together, and the “troubled seek out trouble.” Jesus’ words encapsulate this thought,
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34).
We all have our troubles (things that bother us); we shouldn’t go inviting more trouble into our lives. But we do. We create trouble when we shouldn’t; we add to the chaos around us.
This principle also applies to our relationships. We often seek out those that are as troubled as we are. Intentionally or not, we find those who can commiserate with us and validate our fragility.
Consider that the tax collectors and sinners are always together… this isn’t disparaging those groups; Jesus sought them out, and so should we. We all desire to be around people similar to us in every dimension; it validates our identities. Without thinking, we want our groups to let us stay troubled and broken. Jesus is remarkable because he knew this and still inserted himself into the midst of the sick.

Mark 2:15-17 – “While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus’ words strike home. He points out two truths: sinners will seek out other sinners, and those who consider themselves righteous typically don’t. Jesus knows this isn’t the ideal scenario: If the healthy never attend to the sick, they will perpetually stay sick. He came to change that experience. Notice that Jesus doesn’t assert that the tax collectors and sinners are better or preferred but that they need help. They need a physician to come and give aid to that which ails them. 
Often, the righteous stay with the righteous, and the sinners stay with the sinners. And the two never mix. Paul also asserts that there must be a mingling in stating, “How can they believe in him whom they have never heard?” (Romans 10:13-15). Everyone needs to hear that they, too, were once sick, but now they have been made well and have been cleansed from all our sins.
This leaves us with two essential concepts to hold onto. We need to grasp both. We need to surround ourselves with the righteous—those who know the will of God and try to live by it. That gives us the support we need so that we don’t get infected by the world around us and so that we know what “health” looks like. And then, when we are well enough to do so, we must go to the sick.
Those boys from the camp retreat were only going to encourage each other to disregard authority and damage property. Had someone sought them out, they might have caused fewer problems. There needed to be someone to help them see a better option. Likewise, many people live outside of God’s will for them and don’t know there is a better option… they continue to rebel and push back against those around them. It is up to us to be healthy and take the message to those who need it most.

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