Then Jesus went again to walk alongside the lake. Again a crowd came to him, and he taught them. Strolling along, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, at his work collecting taxes. Jesus said, “Come along with me.” He came.
Later Jesus and his disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples: “What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the misfits?”
Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.”
The disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees made a practice of fasting. Some people confronted Jesus: “Why do the followers of John and the Pharisees take on the discipline of fasting, but your followers don’t?”
Jesus said, “When you’re celebrating a wedding, you don’t skimp on the cake and wine. You feast. Later you may need to pull in your belt, but not now. As long as the bride and groom are with you, you have a good time. No one throws cold water on a friendly bonfire. This is Kingdom Come!”
He went on, “No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes; you want fabrics that match. And you don’t put your wine in cracked bottles.
Jesus cared more about helping and caring for others than he did for his own reputation.
When we seek to follow Jesus we are going to find ourselves in places where we might not expect to find ourselves. We will often find ourselves with someone who we might consider “them” or “those people.” Jesus went to people who were on the fringes of his culture. It cost him social standing. It cost him the respect of the religious elite.
It cost him.
Usually we are unwilling to pay the price to go where Jesus goes. It’s so much easier to simply stay in our bubbles of comfort.
I’ve heard it said that a Christian that only surrounds themselves with Christians is like a ship always at port. Neither are doing what they were created for.
You see, when we start following Christ we become lights to the world. Each of us are uniquely suited to be present somewhere with someone.
I think over the years that’s been the biggest shift for me. We don’t need “evangelism” training. We need “presence” training. Simply showing up and being authentic about who I am as a follower of Jesus is all I need to be. I don’t need to be anything else.
A number of years ago I was talking with a Christian missionary who was one of the first known Christians to be on the ground in Albania after the Iron Curtain fell. He talked about how the first few years people were becoming Christians so fast that it felt like they were living in the book of Acts. Then it got hard and they started using what could best be described as bait and switch techniques. Unsurprisingly, when people discovered the switch it hurt relationships and made it very difficult for them to trust in Christ. They realized that the best thing they could do was to be open, honest, and authentic about who they were as followers of Jesus. They made the conscious decision to be present.
Who are the people that you’ve been afraid to be with because it might cost you your reputation or social standing? Well, maybe it’s time to count the cost and go.
Beginning Thursday, February 4th at 9:30 pm Eastern I will be hosting an online book club discussing Falling Upward by Richard Rohr. If you would like to attend let me know and I will be sure to invite you to our Discord server so you can participate.
Also, Wednesday nights at 7 pm Eastern I am teaching Beyond Sunday School: The History of Israel’s Monarchs on Zoom. If you would like to be part of the live recording, let me know and I can make sure you get an invite to that as well.