I love the Church but most congregations aren't all they're cracked up to be. But hey, I guess I'll never find that perfect church. It seems that every church I go to...I'm there. Bunch of sinners! Hmph! It seems every time I go to church, I'm just another one of the sinners..... Wait! Thats fantastic! I really do love the church. I really do love most congregations...bunch of sinners! GREAT!
Then Jesus asks Levi to follow him. I do not recall a sinner's prayer or even a Roman's Road. Perhaps one of Jesus' bonehead disciples had a huge wooden sign that read, "God hates tax collectors! The kingdom of God is near. Repent or die!"
But I do not recall that in scripture either. Anyway! Jesus calls Levi, and Levi follows very willingly. Oh! It doesn't end there. Going to one tax collector's little booth was not enough. Jesus goes to have some dinner with Levi and a bunch of other tax collectors. Jesus sat and hung out with them. I read that he sits with them; eating.
This was not the guys getting together for some food and cards either. Scripture tells us it was a large crowd of tax collectors. Jesus went to a huge tax collectors' dinner conference to hang out with them.
Oh, and possibly the most accurate reflection of today's Christian culture in this passage happens outside the "Hyatt Regency by the Sea" were Pharisee picketers with sings and megaphones. The signs complained, "Why DO YOU eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
Now, let's not overlook something here. The real thing worth noting is the Pharisees are the ones who first call the tax collectors "sinners". They are never referred to as sinners until the Pharisees come on the scene. They were quick to place a branding on these people. Jesus goes into the margins of the marginalized and sits with them; the Christian elite sit outside branding tax collectors with titles.
What about this? Maybe we need to read the story of Zacchaeus with the realization that this is a, man who desperately wants to see Jesus. This is a desperate sinner who longs to see Jesus but can't. The reason he can't see Jesus is because in the way are all the crowds of Jesus-followers. These are a lot of people who already see Jesus and perhaps they are blocking out the sinner and despised tax collector. They don't even notice the incredibly needy sinner just behind them who wants desperately to come to Jesus. These people likely already knew Jesus was the Messiah. That's why they followed him, but in the midst of it they left Zacchaeus to the side....the one who desperately needed and even WANTED to see and know Jesus. Isn't it interesting that one thing changed since the time of Jesus in that it used to be the sinners, whores, and drunks that came running to the compassion of Jesus and the Christian elite who hated Christ? So what has changed now that it is the lost who hate Christ and even the mention of Christ? What changed? The compassion of Christ? I'm leaning on no.
the best communication of the gospel?