Be ye separate and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. (II Corinthians 6:17) Does this scripture means that we should withdraw from the world, and live in some cave in the desert? The answer is no. The world needs to hear about the Lord, and if we exclude them from us then they will never come to him. We expect sinners to come to the church, when the church should be going out to the sinners. Jesus Christ went and mingled among the sinners of the world. He got a well deserved reputation of being a friend of publicans and sinners. (Matthew 9:11)
I thank God because a Christian invited me to his house, and befriended me when I was yet in my sins. For many months he kept on talking to me about my need of a savior. I thank God for that brother.
My dear brothers how many publicans and sinners can you count among your friends? My brother sinners are not people you only witness to. Let him first become you friend, and then he will become your brother. A man that will have friends must show himself to be friendly. (Proverbs 18:24)
Are you afraid you might blemish your reputation? That is exactly what kept many people from accepting Christ. Don't worry about your reputation leave it in God's hand. Or perhaps you think that associating with sinners might blemish your holiness? Then I hope you never have to land in jail among lawbreakers like Joseph, Jesus, and Paul. Did you know that Paul converted many prisoners and guards to the Lord?
The publicans and the harlots believed John and were baptized by him in the Jordan River. How could John accept such people? Didn’t he know the kind of people they were? If John came back he would be out there in the hood preaching to the gangbangers and whores in the projects, for he knows exactly what kind of people they are.
Was not Jesus crucified between two thieves? Was not Matthew a publican? Was not Peter and Paul often in jail? Many self-righteous people would not fellowship with Peter or Paul since they had been in jail. What a shame, what a disgrace, no way a Christian could associate with those convicts named Paul and Silas.
I was in prison and you visited me. When was the last time your visited Jesus in prison? He is there waiting for you to come and fellowship with him. He sits alone in a damp cell rotting away while alive. Days, weeks, months and years go by without any visits, that prisoner is waiting for you, will you ever visit him?
Don't tell the sinners to stop doing drugs or smoking, instead tell them about Jesus. Once they get Jesus inside them, they will stop doing whatever is not good. Preach Jesus and the holiness will come. Trying to clean up the bad habits of the sinners is like trying to clean up a fish before you have caught him, it is just not going to happen and it is a waste of time. Get the light that Jesus has given you, out from under the bushel of seclusion, and put it on the candlestick of friendship. Go out there on faith and become a friend of sinners.