Mixed In, Not Mixed Up

Mixed In, Not Mixed Up
By Steve Smith

Years ago, I remember changing the fluid in the rear differential of a semi truck in our shop. After draining it, I set it aside and put the new fluid in so the truck was ready to go for the next day.

I made a run the next morning and remember coming into the shop and seeing the bucket sitting there so I was going to dispose of it properly. As soon as I moved the bucket it became clear there was water in with the oil: oil on top and water in the bottom. They were both in the same bucket, mixed in but not mixed up since oil rises to the top.

As the gospel lesson was read this Sunday from Matthew 9:9-13 this experience dawned on me in a spiritual light. Jesus had a habit of hanging out with people that most people thought were outcasts, sinners who had blown it so bad most folks would not even give them the time of day, especially the religious folks. Note though that Jesus was mixed in with them but not mixed up with their behavior, nor did he ever condone it in their lives.

There is a great lesson here for all of us, and a caution as well. The lesson is the mission of Jesus is to save sinners, the sin sick as the gospel says, and Jesus is the doctor and the instrument is the cross. Jesus mission is our mission. I love in the beginning of the book of Acts where Luke says in chapter 1:1 “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach.” Read that again. Did you catch it? All that Jesus began to do and teach, which means He is not done yet.

So now that Jesus is ascended into heaven how does that continue? Guess what, through you and me, fellow Christians! That we might by the power of the Holy Spirit take the message that on the cross Jesus died for sinners to the world, that is good news! The one thing every human has in common is sin, and it is fatal unless the message of the cross is proclaimed so that the Spirit may draw people to Jesus so they may be forgiven and saved!

Here is the caution, you and me are not Jesus, we are not perfect in temptation. It is good to hang out with sinners to proclaim the gospel of Christ crucified for sinners and risen for eternal life.  At the same time it is foolish to put ourselves in situations where we may know we are weak and prone and justify that by saying we are going to share the gospel there. If getting mixed up as opposed to mixed in is probable, leave the situation alone and pray God would send someone to those folks, He knows what to do. That’s why in John 17 Jesus prayed for the disciples, not that they be taken out of the world, but that they be protected from the evil one, and part of that is common sense on our part also.

Recently a young man approached me at a funeral visitation, we shared a few words in conversation and then he said to me “I have to thank you for saving my life.” I could not even remember him, or where I had met him. He went on to tell me when he was really messed up and no one else would talk to him I took the time to help him and share Jesus with him and that his life was changed by Jesus. Come to find out he had worked at our warehouse years ago. I did not even recognize him. I was mixed into his life but never got mixed up in his lifestyle or sin, nor did I ever condone his sins. So what was the changing factor? Grace and Mercy through the message of the cross and resurrection.

We never know what God is up to, and sometimes it is years before His timing is right. Just like knowing when to change differential fluid in a truck, be aware of the Spirits leading to get mixed into some one’s life who is struggling with sin, and be careful not to get mixed up in the lifestyle as well. 

Jesus was mixed in with humanity, never mixed up, took our sin to the cross, rose from the grave and lives today to save still. Aren’t you glad He did that for you? May the Spirit empower us to go out like water in oil in the same bucket and get mixed in and not mixed up to proclaim the mighty works of God!