Going to church on Sundays can be hard. And I’m not talking about the battle with the alarm clock…that happens on a daily basis. I go past the Nike shorts and pull out a dress and heels, spend some extra time trying to tame the hair, slap on some make-up and it’s out the door. When I get there, people ask you how your week has gone with the answer always, “Great.” I sing songs and then listen to a sermon about how God loves me. All the while people around me are in their “Sunday best” learning about their Savior and counting down the minutes until noon so they can chunk up the deuces and hit up Rosa’s.
I don’t know if this is just my experience or if others share it with me. But man, going to church seems to have lost is genuineness (I think I made that word up.)
Since when does God care that your Nike shorts and Chacos stayed in the closet? Since when does he want you to mechanically respond to the how are you doing questions? Since when does he want His children to put on a front to go see Him?
Man, and it’s sad because churches are seeming to become more and more “exclusive.” If you’re in a Baptist church and someone puts her hands up and starts wiggling…for some reason it’s not okay. It someone shows up in tattered clothes, they are not allowed. If some kids show up that have a bad reputation in town, it is frowned upon for them to enter the sanctuary.
What kind of mess is this?!
The Gospel is not limited to John 3:16.
For God so loved that world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
True, the believing aspect is crucial in salvation, but then again so is following, as stated in Luke 9:23.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Jesus said “anyone.” Not only certain people who fit the mold and whatnot. He said anybody.
Matthew certainly fits this mold. He had another name, Levi. To be given that name means that your parents expected you to serve the Lord like the Levites did in the Old Testament. To become a student of the rabbis, you had to send in an application, and it is very likely that Matthew got cut. He couldn’t measure up. So after that he took up tax collecting for the Roman government. Tax collectors usually took more money than asked for from the people so they would have some for themselves. They were seen as religious and social outcasts, not allowed into the outer court of the tabernacle. And what does Jesus do? He invites Matthew to follow him. And Matthew gout up and followed him, leaving behind his condemned past as a tax collector.
Saying yes to following Jesus meant saying no to his shady business. But isn’t that a good thing?
Nowadays, people don’t know Matthew as a tax collector but as a disciple who wrote the first book in the New Testament.
Luke 5:29-32 describes the events after Matthew left everything to follow Jesus.
And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at the table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
We need to bust out of our comfort zones and accept the “sinners.” Because aren’t we all sinners?