Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him. Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them. Luke 5:27-29
Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? Luke 9:23-25
We are in the second week of our series that examines Christ and the unexpected things he said and did in his ministry while he was here on earth. This week we are looking at "unexpected guests." It bascically comes down to this thought: it is not expected that Jesus and this collection of people would hang out together at a party. Just as unexpected as Jesus wanting to be with them is them wanting to be with him. This all came about because of Jesus' unexpected choice of Levi as a follower. It seems that societal and religious culture esteem "accomplishment" within the accepted order of things. I love the 1 Corinthians passage above that wonderfully expresses God's plan to call and use those who are "not accomplished" within the accepted order of things here on earth to accomplish his truly divine purposes. The overarching tendency of those who are accomplished within the accepted order of things here on earth (either societal or religious) is to be prideful and boastful. The Luke 9 passage above says, "give up your life for my sake." It seems the "accomplished" are less likely to do this because they have much to give up or lose. The "unaccomplished" are much more likely to respond to Christ's call because they have little to lose and therefore little to give up. God's plan for true "accomplishment" is hinged entirely on him. He wants the life we live to be his doing and this is why we need Christ. Following him makes all the difference, but it doesn't work very well when we get in the way with our pride, accomplishments, and boasting.
Lord, I want to be your follower in the fullest sense. Help me to see more clearly what you value and esteem. Help me to see more clearly where I have settled for the "expected" things that societal and religious culture value and esteem. As I go through this week help me to grasp both how strong and deep your desire is for me to me to be pure and holy and how strong and deep your abhorance is for the "self righteous religious path of the Pharisees" to which I am so prone. Have mercy, Lord God.
Posted on Mon, March 16, 2015
by Ken Hart