I see Jesus acting on both sides of this issue. He definitely encouraged the best out of people…especially those who were down and and out, and viewed that way by everyone else. “A bent reed he would not break…” Jesus clearly understood that piling onto people who knew they had problems, could break them. Calling them sinners, and calling them out in their condition, would be downright hurtful.
OTOH, Jesus also addressed the crowds, saying, “If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly father give good gifts to those who ask him?” He did not shy away from identifying the human condition, in ways that we would find objectionable, especially in this age where pumping up self-esteem is viewed as paramount.
The gospel clearly states that we have a problem, and that Jesus is the remedy. We also won’t seek its remedy, unless we first know that something is wrong…with us. I think that this is why well put together people, who have led respectable lives, find the gospel an offense, and the i.d. of sinner to be so objectionable.
To put it in real life times, it is no different than the term addict. An alcoholic will find no relief until they hit bottom, and can admit, “I am an alcoholic.” That is the doorway to sobriety. And it remains the way people at AA meetings continue to identify themselves, no matter how long they’ve been in the program…two days, or twenty years. It is not shaming…it is an acknowledgement of the truth of ones condition, need, and recovery. It is the gospel in action.
Hard for those with more concealed problems, and a higher view of themselves, to identify, and admit that they are no different at heart, from the hard core addict. Hard for church members and religious people, as well. As Paul said, “There is no difference…”