I never tire hearing about Jesus as the friend of sinners. There’s something fundamentally attractive about that designation.
I am especially drawn to follow this "friend of sinners" by reading John Dickson’s The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission (chapter 3).
He points out that in first-century Palestinian culture, sharing food and drink with people meant identifying with them and, in a sense, endorsing them. You can see how this put off the so-called “pious” religious leaders. How could Jesus socially interact with these sinners!
Yet Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. His friendship with them was a tangible sign of God’s welcoming grace. So his questionable dining habits not only went against the cultural and religious systems, but were an illustration of the very fellowship with sinners God so eagerly desires.
I like that, Mr. Dickson! I feel welcomed before God! When I talk to Jesus, I don’t feel uncomfortable with some “salvation cringe”. And I think I can follow his model.