All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’” (Luke 19:7)

Pastor Eldon walked through the jail on a rescue mission. He had promised to pick up Jackson, age nineteen, every weekday for a month and drive him to his work release. Jackson was serving time for vandalism, including damage that hit too close to home for Pastor Eldon. However, the pastor saw beyond Jackson’s crimes to the power of God’s grace. When he arrived, the guard, Cody, shook his head, and said for all to hear, “Good grief, Reverend, the kid even broke the windows of your church. How far will you go for him?”

Pastor Eldon smiled and replied, “Think of how far Jesus went for him. And, Cody, I seem to remember bailing you out a couple times when you were younger.” The guard was speechless. The pastor smiled again and said, “See you on Sunday, Cody.”

At times Christians draw the circle of salvation too small, thinking, “Surely that person is beyond all hope. Just look at how sinful he or she is.” But that’s the whole point—Jesus came to save sinners, and that includes every one of us (Rom. 3:23). Don’t minimize God’s ability to save, and don’t minimize His interest in any human being based on your own feelings and prejudices. Instead, rejoice every time you see Jesus at work in someone’s life, and ask the Savior to use you to help unbelievers turn toward Him.

Change your path so you encounter unbelievers every day.

Paul Zinter has served as a pastor and editor. He enjoys writing, bread making, and teaching at his local church.