Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13
I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
Psalm 19: 1-4
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
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.”
What does it mean that Christ did not come to call the righteous, but sinners? Who are the righteous? Who are the sinners? In Christian culture it’s easy to lock down our communities and focus on the divide between the church and the rest of the world. We could look at ourselves and call ourselves “the righteous” while looking at our neighbors, co-workers, and other people in our world as “ the sinners”. For to be righteous is to be saved by the love of Jesus. But all of us are sinners. We are born into original sin and even after we receive the salvation that Christ offers, we still stumble into sin and need to regularly seek His forgiveness. For Jesus to say that He came to call the sinners, maybe he is saying that He came to call us in our sinfulness to come out from it.
Matthew was a tax collector. Tax collectors were notorious for overcharging people and taking a cut from what they gathered. They often became rich off of their self prescribed tips, and kept company with prostitutes and heavy partiers. Matthew was not someone who would have gotten along with church officials, and Jesus would have been spotted at a pretty seedy party. It’s fairly understandable why Pharisees were shocked to see Jesus there. Jesus picked one of the most unlikely candidates to be His disciple, and hung out with the rejects of religious society. What is evident in Jesus then, is that He saw beyond Matthew’s brokenness. When He saw Matthew at work, Jesus saw His future friend, not His enemy. Jesus did not consider Matthew’s rampant acts of stealing and wild company to be barriers to coming into relationship with Him. Rather, Jesus destroyed any barrier between them, called Matthew to Himself, and then Jesus stepped into the rest of Matthew’s world to redeem it.
Jesus's love for the world looks just like this. He sees our brokenness and sinfulness, but loves us anyway. Regardless of what stands in the way, He calls us to Himself, infiltrates our world, and then states that His intent is to love and call those just like us. He doesn’t look at our differences as reasons to not pursue us. Instead, He states that His mission is for those who seem the most distant to know His love and grace.
Today, Jesus is calling us unto Himself and to be like Him. Maybe, like Matthew, you are caught in a habitual sin pattern and feeling estranged from Christ. Remember that Jesus sees past that and wants you to experience the freedom of His love. Or maybe, like the Pharisees, you see those far off from Christ and don’t know how to reach them. Let Jesus inspire you to take a risk in reaching out to someone who doesn’t know Him yet. Let Him inspire your words and actions so that you may love like Him.