Jesus Unhinged: Call of the Unexpected

Jesus called unexpected people into his little band of followers, fisherman and regular folk, but the most unexpected was a tax collector named Levi. As a tax collector, Levi, also known as Matthew, belonged to one of the most hated groups of folks in 1stcentury Palestine.

Tax collectors were hated even more than the IRS of our time! These guys were turn-coat Jewish people who were working for the Imperial Roman government. They had a horrible reputation for taking not only what the citizen owed for their taxes but skimming off the top and taking more than their fair share. They were fleecing the people.  Today, these people would be more akin to drug dealers in our culture. 

And yet, Jesus called a tax collector to be a part of his group of disciples. 

Not only that, Jesus went to Levi’s house for a work/farewell party for Levi that same day! Jesus was hanging out with a whole bunch of tax collectors. 

When the religious leaders questioned why he was doing that, Jesus responded with a now familiar phrase, “It’s not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners.”

What if instead of shooting non-believers with fiery arrows from a safe distance where we won’t get dirty, what if we threw a party instead? 

What if we invited our neighborhood for a block party to enjoy time with them and see them as human beings rather than assuming the worst of them because they don’t go to church? 

Our job isn’t to protect the healthy in holy hospitals, we are supposed to be out of our four walls, being the church together on mission, to bring as many people to health as possible. 

Maybe, if we would follow the example of Jesus, we might just find a new, true friend in the likes of someone like Levi, someone who is also just on a journey of discovering what life looks like with Jesus. 

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