24
Feb
14

Raising The Roof With Jesus

Jesus was already grating on the nerves of the religious elite.  First, he called a tax collector to come and follow Him as one of His disciples.  Tax collectors were the scum of the earth to the Jews of Jesus’ day.  They were viewed as traitors because they worked for the Romans.  They were viewed as thieves because they ripped off their fellow Jews time and again.  So there’s this tax collector named Matthew (called Levi by Luke) and he is beckoned by Jesus to be His follower.  What does Matthew do?  He throws a great big party for Jesus!  He does what every follower of Jesus should do.  He invites his friends to meet Jesus.  The problem with being a social pariah is that your only friends are other social pariahs.  In Matthew’s case, his friends were other tax collectors and “sinners.”  That was a nice way of saying “prostitutes.”  The sinless Savior of the world is raising the roof with thieves and prostitutes!  The Pharisees and teachers of the law complain to the other disciples about the behavior of their Master.  Jesus, with amazing insight as to His God-given purpose, says:

It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

​ – Luke 5:31-32 (NIV)​ 
Let the wisdom of that soak in for just a moment.
The Pharisees wanted Jesus to hang out with them.  It was all about them!  “Shouldn’t He be hanging out with us?!?  We’re the religious ones!”
We do the same thing!  Our churches are filled with “religious” Christians who believe that it is all about us!  That the church exists to make us feel good.  That the church exists to satisfy our needs.  That the church exists for our  benefit.  NOT TRUE!  When you are transformed from sinner into saint by God’s amazing grace, the church ceases to be about you!
Imagine going to a hospital because you are terribly ill.  Once you have recovered from your illness, do you stay in the hospital?  NO!  You go back out into the world and live your life.  If you meet other terribly ill people, you tell them to go to the hospital, right?
The great theologian Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby) once said: “The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.”  William Temple was the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1900’s.  He said, “The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “The Church is the Church only when it exists for others.”
If you have the notion that the church is all about you, you are terribly mistaken.  The church of Jesus Christ is for sinners.  If every complaint you make about your church is filled with words like, “me” or “my” or “I” then perhaps you don’t understand what the church is all about.  Instead of complaining about your needs or preferences, maybe we should be asking questions.  Questions like:
  • Why aren’t young families visiting our church?
  • Why don’t we have a ministry for single parents?
  • How can we start a ministry for recovering addicts?
  • How can we design our worship service to attract and engage people who don’t know Jesus?
  • Why aren’t more people getting baptized?
  • What are we doing to serve our community and show them God’s love?
  • When are we going to have a basics of faith Bible study for new believers and unbelievers?

Why don’t we raise these complaints?  A lot of it has to do with money.  Addicts don’t have any.  Neither do single parents living paycheck to paycheck.  People who don’t know Jesus aren’t tithers.  But if we can keep our givers and tithers happy and bend over backwards to make sure they don’t leave, we’ll be able to perpetuate our standard of living.  So we don’t make any changes.  So we don’t reach out to the community.  We don’t tailor our ministries and events to engage people who don’t know Jesus.  We exist to serve and satisfy the saints.  We exist to treat the cured.  And that is the exact opposite of why Jesus came.

Luke 5:27-32 (NIV)

Jesus Calls Levi and Eats With Sinners

27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

 

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