Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
Matthew 9:9-13 (NRSV)
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew 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 the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when he heard this, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners."
Oh! I can’t wait for the day that people look into our churches on Sunday morning and say, “Why are those Christians hanging out with ‘those sinners?!’”
Far too often when people look into our churches they see the so-called “perfect folks” who all look nice, smell nice, and act nice on Sunday mornings.
When people who do not fit this mold show up in our churches, they are often made to feel like they do not belong. Have mercy, Lord!
I have actually been in churches where people have looked, pointed, snickered, and/or talked behind their hands when “sinners” came into the building.
It was the pregnant teenager, homeless/smelly man, strung-out woman, hard-core gang banger, and the emaciated man suffering from AIDS who received this kind of attention and were made to know in words—and in deeds—that “their kind” were not welcome in the church.
When I was a child, God taught me a valuable lesson about this one night during “testimony” time. There was a young and pregnant teenage girl who stood up and waddled down to the microphone. Everyone gasped and snickered as she came. When she got there, she rocked our world.
She very humbly said something that went like this, “I thank God that I am just like all of you. We are all sinners, in need of God’s grace. Just because you can plainly see my sin doesn’t mean that you are really any different than me. Your sin is simply hidden on the inside, whilst mine is on the outside for all to see. But, we all need Jesus.”
That lesson has stuck with me for the entirety of my life! No matter who we are, where we live, how much money we have, how educated we are, or how holy we imagine ourselves to be, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…there is none righteous no not one!
That is why Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick…For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Thank you, Jesus!
I have heard it said, “Evangelism is nothing more than one beggar showing another beggar where to find bread.” Isn’t this true, my dear friends?
On this day, I pray that God will hasten the day that all Christians everywhere offer mercy instead of judgment, welcome instead of retreat, and loving-kindness rather than hatred to those who are in need of Jesus.
Won’t you pray with me?
God, I don’t want to be like the Pharisees. They just knew that they had it all together and they truly believed that they were holy and right in your eyes. They stood in judgment of others, but Jesus said that they were wrong. Please give me the heart of Jesus to love, care, and serve others with humility in my heart. Please forgive me of my sin and fill me with the Holy Spirit, so that I can share good news—and be good news—in the lives of those who most desperately need it! I pray this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
If you have questions about how to become a friend and follower of Jesus, please see the devotion entitled, "Come to Jesus."