Saturday, January 15, 2011

Week #2 Luke 5:27-28 "Following Jesus"

"After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. "Follow me," Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed Him."

When people think of scripture memorization, they usually don't think of a verse like this. This isn't one of those Promise Verses or Blessing Verses. You know, the ones that state one of God's promises or blessings to those who follow Him.

The above verses, from the Gospel of Luke, does indeed contain the words "follow me," but there doesn't appear to be a specific promise or blessing attached to it. Not exactly your stereotypical Sunday School memory verse.

But, there are at least three things contained in these verses that encourage me, re-assure me and yes, hint at God's promises and blessings.

First of all, this story (imagine that, a 2-sentence story) is about Levi, the tax collector. Tax collectors in the Roman Empire were famous for extorting much more money than was due, in order to line their own pockets. They were greedy and self-serving. In other words, not a whole lot different than the rest of us sinners, if we were to be truly honest with ourselves.

What an encouragement to me, the chief sinner of Tacoma, WA, that Jesus Himself calls not the saintly, but the sinner to follow Him. It means His salvation, His blessings and the privilege of serving Him include me. I am not disqualified, regardless of my past and my present.

Second, I noticed that Levi was in the midst of his "evil-doing," when Jesus gave him "the call." He was sitting at his tax booth, not praying at Sunday morning service or volunteering at a social service project. He was doing his day-to-day activity, which included doing his daily work, and sinning.

See? Jesus can meet me right here, right now. In the midst of my daily grind, and my sinning, He can and will meet me right where I am. No need to change into my Sunday Best or put on that holy behavior to make myself acceptable. Jesus wants me. The real me. Not my idealized self.

And finally, Levi left everything and followed Jesus. I pondered whether this meant that I needed to leave behind my life, my work and the things I hold dear in order to "legitimately" follow Him.

I immediately recalled Luke 3:12-13. John the Baptist was asked by repentant tax collectors what they should do in order to be baptized. Instead of telling them to stop being tax collectors, he told them to "collect no more than the amount prescribed for (them)." Tax collection was, after all, a necessary job in society. In other words, keep your job, but do it in a way that glorifies God.

What this tells me is this: Some times, we are Levi. Levi had a special calling on his life, to be one of the 12 apostles. When God calls you to a specific ministry or place, we need to drop everything, if need be, and follow Him.

Other times, our call to discipleship means we should stay where we are, but to do our work in a way that glorifies Him. We don't all need to be in "full-time ministry" or on the mission field. We can be followers of Christ at the supermarket, at the office and yes, while blogging and doing theatre.

I like that. No, not because it "works for me" and makes me feel good. I like it because it is truth.

Praise God for His word.

No comments:

Post a Comment