Thursday, March 19, 2015

Jesus: friend of scumbags

( image from David LaChapelle )
Which is better?  a) go to church or b) go to a bar ?

Jesus spent time in church (the synagogue) but he also so much time with people who partied that his enemies called him a "glutton and a drunk". I'm sure that Jesus didn't overeat or get drunk, but he hung out in places where people usually did.

In Matthew 9 Jesus calls a scumbag named Matthew to follow him.
"As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him."

" Follow me and be my disciple"- Be my student, my apprentice, learn from me, learn to do what I do. This was a call to a life of obedience. Matthew immediately got up and followed Jesus. He took his first step of obedience.

When you disciple someone, give them homework. Give them something to do, to obey right away.

Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. 

The first thing Matthew did was to obey and follow Jesus. Then later (later that day? later that week?) Matthew invited Jesus to meet his friends, AND he invited his friends to meet Jesus. He did so in the best way he knew. He threw a party. Jesus called him to "be my disciple" and Matthew begins right away by throwing a dinner party for Jesus & his friends. Matthew's friends weren't just sinners they were "tax collectors and other disreputable sinners." They were in the words of the religious people "scum".

But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum? ” 

I have some exciting news: Jesus loves scum. Scum is what is left in the bowl or pan after you've eaten your dinner. Scum is what is left in the bathtub after you've drained out the dirty water. Scum - it's not a nice word. It is a good description of some of us. We're nothing in the eyes of the world: under-educated, single moms, broken marriages, unloved and unwanted - if we died tonight few people would notice. Jesus would notice, Jesus cares. We don't qualify for high society but Jesus calls to be his disciples, to be part of his family. 

When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 

If you want to be a disciple of Jesus, then start hanging out with "sick people". Jesus called Matthew to share his heart. Matthew got it. He invited his "sicko friends" to meet Jesus. Who are you inviting to meet Jesus? Do you have any "sick" friends in need of the doctor? If not, get some. If so, throw a party and invite them to meet Jesus and his disciples. Jesus came to help "sick people. When someone is really evil we call them a "sick SOB". If they know it and want to change, then Jesus can heal them. 

Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”  

This last sentence takes me back to my opening question: which is better to go to church or go to a bar? Church is where you go to "offer sacrifices", to do religious activity - sing, worship, donate to the offering, read scripture, etc. Where do you go to show mercy? The hospital, the bar, maybe to the party. You go where sick people are. Reaching out to the hurting people is better than religious activity. Jesus calls us to his mission - reaching the lost, showing mercy to the hurting. We will not find those people at church, but rather in a bar or at a party. 

What do you think?

Above passages is from Matthew 9:9-13 NLT