Hey Church Family!As a pastor, it is one of the saddest conversations I will occasionally have. From time to time, I meet someone who will say something like, "I could never step foot in a church." It saddens me because somewhere along the way, this person became convinced that church is only for good people. Somewhere in their past—whether from a Sunday School teacher, a pastor, or a maybe even a parent who meant well—they came to understand that God only likes good people. People who follow all the rules. And since they drifted or think of themselves as a "bad person," the church and God have very little for them.
However, throughout the gospels we see that the "bad" people—the most unlikely people, liked Jesus. The people we think would want to avoid Jesus, were drawn to him. And even more shocking than that: Jesus like those same unlikely people. The people Jesus seemed the most comfortable around were the ones the good, religious people tried to avoid. Perhaps that's why they liked him.
We see this in the story of Matthew's call to follow Jesus. Matthew was a tax collector. Simply put, he was the worst of the worst. Everyone hated him because he made his living from sin. He broke all the rules. He was a constant reminder to the Jews that they were not in control of their own destiny as a nation. Still worse, Matthew made himself wealthy off of this type of living. Needless to say, very few people liked him.
But Jesus liked him. In fact, Jesus saw great potential in Matthew. Jesus saw in Matthew what we all want Jesus to see in us—the possibility of being his follower. We all want Jesus to see in us the potential to learn from him, watch him, grow closer to him. So Jesus calls Matthew to step away from the tax booth and follow him.
The invitation to follow is so simple. Yet we make it complicated. Jesus extends the same invitation to you and me: Follow me.
Here is a thought on which to reflect: The more we as a church remain focused on following Christ, the more people will feel in our presence what they felt in Jesus' presence—fully loved.
I pray you have a blessed week!
Together in Christ,
Notes from the Staff @The Woods