A lot of times, many non-Christians believe they can’t offer anything to God because of their status or sin they’re in. They feel the need to achieve a certain level of growth then come to faith in Jesus. I’ve encountered many people like this who have a similar form of this belief and no matter how much you try to convince them of God’s mercy it never works. Friends, if you believe this sort of statement, well I’m here to convince you that Christianity isn’t for those that have 100% of life figured out.
Jesus commands the opposite of this belief in Matthew 10:39 when he stated, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. ” Obtaining riches, careers, pride, and identity of this world may actually cause us to neglect the call to follow Christ. Instead of being attached to the true vine of spiritual replenishment, the world takes control of us.
Interestingly, the New Testament offers little about the lives of Jesus Christ disciples that he selected. We know that many of his disciples were fishermen and at least one, St. Matthew, was a tax collector. The social and political story behind tax collectors in Roman-governed Israel is important about who Jesus called to follow him.
We know that the Jews despised Roman authority over Israel. The tax collectors abused their power by overcharging fees, cheating local citizens of there taxes, and aligned their allegiance to Rome. Consequently, the Jews waited for the messiah that would reinstate the political, religious, and military kingdom of the Old Testament to free themselves from the bondage of Rome.
This is what makes the calling of St. Matthew so important for us today. The Pharisees saw Jesus speaking with tax collectors which appalled the religious leaders of the day because he associated himself with people who oppressed Jews. The Pharisees were confused by Jesus’ actions so they asked his disciples why he ate with despicable people such as those. Jesus’ response to the Pharisees question was a welcoming affirmation to his mission on earth, “For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Mat 9:13).”
It’s those that have no relationship with Jesus Christ that he invites to recline at the table of salvation. When speaking about the “table” Jesus stated, “I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven (Mat 8:11).” Jesus’ words show the universal calling of his Church. The invitation to fellowship in God’s love extends to everyone. Just as Jesus showed compassion and mercy to many gentiles, vulnerable citizens, and marginalized people, his desire is that everyone is in communion with the true love of God.
No matter the sins or worries that plague us, Christianity is all about allowing Jesus to make you a new creation from an internal transformation, not outward conformity through seemingly. Jesus can offer the Holy Spirit through Baptism to not only cleanse anyone from their sin but make you an adopted son or daughter of the Highest. It’s through this special relationship that we can obtain the inheritance of our faith that’s undefiled and imperishable (1 Pet 1:4).
Friends, we can follow the same path.St. Matthew took the invitation of Jesus and demonstrated that God’s grace extends to those that need him. Daily we can choose to follow Christ and abandon those things that are barriers to true charity.
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Image: Caravaggio: The Calling of St Matthew