While reading in Matthew this a.m., my mind went back to my first year in Christ. It was in 1973 that like Matthew, Jesus said, "Follow me." Matt 9:9. I recall the newness of life the next morning on January 4th as I drove to the public school where I taught. I think I even cried on the way, mistified (sic) by what had happened in my life. Then there were the conversations that week, as I attempted to share with friends this amazing epiphany that had occurred unexpectedly in my Dad's livingroom. That was awkward, as I had little religious orientation given my near 7 year absence from any true engagement with church folk. All I knew to talk about was science (my major) and partying (my primary life). The coaches that I had spent so much time with shooting hoops in the afternoon, or at the beach in the summer were beginning to wonder at my life change. Yet like Matthew, I was excited to have them around me, as nothing had changed per my interest in their friendship, I just no longer was the one most likely to leave a party intoxicated. I guess it was those who because of their church related activities, understood my life change and began to engage my life. Even I began to feel more comfortable around them, less push back when I was open about what truly I believed had happened in my life. Born again seemed most relevant to me, though never with an intent to ostracize others. Eventually, I found myself surrounded by mostly church folk, all very similar in their buy-in to my new lifestyle, in fact I married one. Soon the both of us would become leaders in an interdenominationsl prayer breakfast and later, after a settling in with an even smaller group, leaders within a single church. This morning I question that pathway, as the very people that I most enjoyed and was likely called to engage with, soon found me spending the majority of my time with the "saints." Oh, not to say that they were fully buying into my new life; again, some moments were quite awkward and at times shunning. My point here is, we humans tend to seek comfort and sameness in our walk with Christ, moreover than simply caring for others, those whose lifestyle may differ. Jesus was not that way! "As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:9-12 NIV. Scripture causes me to think outside the box, or at least to question the box I'm in.
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