When Jesus Chooses Us to Follow Him
Do you remember where you were when Jesus first called you? Do you remember that "Follow me" invitation that He extended to you?
I spent a lot of years flirting with Jesus. Does that sound weird? I'd equate our story to being in junior high. He was very interested in my heart, I was very curious about Him. Was He real? Was He a figment of my imagination? Was I imagining His interest? How could He love me? I am the dorkiest girl who has ever walked this earth! On top of being the dorkiest, when it came to actually pursuing a relationship with Jesus, I'm probably the biggest flake. Oh sure, some seasons, we're tight knit like the best of friends. In others, I regard Him as a long distance friend that I really miss. Yet there He's been all along, still pursuing me, and still very interested in my heart.
I remember the "for real" time that I looked at Him and decided to stop flirting with Him. I decided that instead of turning away in that embarrassed, "OMG He really was looking at me" sort of way, that I'd finally pursue that close-knit relationship with Him. I'd finally call Him "MY God." I was sitting in church having just witnessed a story unfold before my eyes in the form of a drama. I had been struck with the knowledge that I had been lost in my loneliness and I never realized that He was there the whole time, waiting to be the One that I would turn to. It was in this moment that I finally saw Him with His hand reached out to me, "Follow me." And you know what? I took His hand and we began this journey. I haven't looked back.
Related Post: An Unlikely Choice
You know who else took Jesus' invitation and never looked back? Matthew (also called Levi)! He would be recognized by his tax booth as his job was to collect taxes. His job would have made him really unpopular, mostly because in our modern age I can't think of anyone who is serenading the IRS with love songs.
Read Luke 5:27-32
Jesus looks at Matthew extends His, "follow me" invitation and Matthew willingly leaves it all behind. Matthew's response to Jesus' invitation is probably my favorite. Matthew invites Jesus to his house for a dinner party. He invites his tax collector friends to this party. Everything was going well and good until a few of the "popular" kids got upset with Jesus that He was sitting at the "loser" table.
"Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" The words "tax collectors and sinners" were dripping with disgust and revulsion. These words were basically the Pharisees' version of the word "loser" or simply someone who would never measure up to their lofty standards. These same words were spoken by a group of people who used their leadership positions to look down on the very people that Jesus came to save. They did this all in the name of religion and all in the name of God.
Related Post: The Heart of Entertaining
We can choose to take the position of thinking we are better than the world. We can take the position of being righteous, judging the world from our lofty, self-built places. But here's the thing: no one is perfect, we're all sick. We're all in need of a physician. We're all in need of Jesus. Why? Because we are all sinners. While the Pharisees and their scribes judged this group of people for their sinful ways, they actually revealed the content and condition of their own hearts. If they were truly representatives of God, then they should possess His heart. His heart is for the lost. Instead of judging the world from their high vantage point of a religious leader, they should have humbly stepped into the world to point every sinner towards God.
You know what I notice about Jesus' response (Luke 5:31-32)? I notice that He doesn't respond with absolute shock that He's hanging out with sinners. Sinners like you and me are exactly the reason that He stepped foot on this planet and why He would die on the cross. You and me. Eternity. Freedom. Peace. All because of His love.
God chose Matthew and God chooses each one of us. He doesn't just simply hand us the gift of salvation, He also extends a hand and invites you and I to humbly go out into our world and point fellow sinners towards Him. What vantage point will you choose to view the world? Will you humbly go into the world to point our fellow sinners towards Jesus or will you choose to judge the world from your lofty, self-built places?