“Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” (Mt. 9:10-11)

Jesus constantly confused those who watched Him in His day. He still confuses those of us who read about Him today.

He did what the majority felt He shouldn’t. And He didn’t do what they thought He should.

Today I read a story about a pastor that is acting like Jesus.

Craig Gross is the founder of XXXChurch.com. They consider themselves, “The number one Christian porn site.” But they aren’t limited to a web presence. They also set up booths at the largest porn conventions in the nation with banners that read, “Jesus loves Porn Stars.” Their goal is to help people break free from porn addiction and to help porn stars break free from the porn industry.

What got my attention today was an article on the ABC news website entitled, “Ron Jeremy and Anti-Porn XXXchurch Pastor, America’s Ultimate Odd Couple.” Under the headline was a photo of the world’s most famous porn star, Ron Jeremy, sitting next to Craig Gross.

The article goes on to tell the story of how these two men have become unlikely friends. The quote I love the most is from a recent phone call when Jeremy was near death:

 ‘Craig, are you free for a couple hours?’ He goes, ‘yeah.’ ‘Are you still close to God?’ He goes, ‘last time I checked.’ ‘Well, I would like you and him to come down to Cedar Sinai Hospital, I’m going through a life-threatening operation,'” Jeremy said.

“There was something different,” Gross said. “He said, ‘Craig, I’m scared, and I don’t want to die.’ And he said, ‘will you pray for me?'”

I’m still processing this story. But there is a lot I like about it.

I like that the Christian never let the sin of the sinner get in the way of building a relationship with the sinner.

I like that the Gospel appears to be believable and real to the sinner and that is only true because they share a relationship that allows the sinner to see and know the Christian — and ultimately, to see and know the Savior.

I like it that the Christian didn’t allow the criticism and fear of other church-goers to stop him from befriending the sinner.

I like that the Christian’s behavior mimics and reflects the behavior of the Savior.

I can’t say it enough — our walk with Christ impacts those who are watching. Too often that impact is discouragement. But in this case that impact is inspiring! Thanks Craig Gross!

Yeah, I think Jesus would have hung out with porn stars.

You can read the whole article here.

PS: I just happened to watch a segment that Nightline did about XXXChurch in 2008. In it they interview Ron Jeremy and Craig Gross together. They challenge Craig about whether he has had an effect on Ron. To which Craig replies, “Not yet.” How cool to see that impact 5 years later. You can see the interview here. The comment I refer to is at the 6:19 mark.