I’ve been a part of the church of Jesus Christ all my life. While that’s a good thing (I think) it also means that I may not stop often enough to think of how I became a part of Christ’s church, and who really belongs here.
Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.
And as he sat at dinner in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples—for there were many who followed him. When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
When I think about the “in crowd” of Christ’s followers, I would have to include Matthew (Levi). He was one of The Twelve, and he even has a gospel named for him. But Matthew Levi came to following Jesus straight from his job at the Tax Collector’s booth. In the time of Jesus, people in Matthew’s profession were despised as cheats and traitors. And yet Jesus welcomed him as a follower. And Matthew must have shared his excitement about Jesus with his friends and colleagues because they flocked to their friend’s house and were welcomed to the table by Jesus himself. That seems like a wonderful scene, but the religious “in crowd” objected. They didn’t want Jesus to be hanging around such sinners. What a shame.
How did you and I get into Christ’s church? Aren’t we “in” here by the grace of God? Have we invited others to know that grace? Do we live in that grace?
God, thank You for making me feel welcome in the church of Your Dear Son. Fill me such grace and thankfulness for the grace I have experienced that I will always invite those around to know Your loving and gracious presence too. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen