Outsider

Fairview Church family near and far,

Who caught Jesus’ eyes? Let’s take a look.

And he went out again beside the sea,” Mark 2:13 says. “And all the crowd was following him, and he was teaching them.” Crowds followed Jesus as he walked to the sea. People were drawn by his ‘works of power’ (his miracles) and how he spoke with authority about God. Jesus was teaching them. They had his attention. Temporarily.

And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaues sitting at the tax booth” (Mark 2:14). Here, with all the crowd around him, listening, waiting on his every word, who does Jesus see? He sees the reviled government money-taker sitting at a tax booth, Levi, whom we know to be Matthew. This is the kind of man Jews called ‘traitor.’ Locals had no good words for their own kind who go and help the occupying Roman government. Yet he is the man Jesus saw. Jesus noticed the reviled one.

And he said to him.” Jesus didn’t speak into the crowds generally. He spoke ‘to him,’ to the outsider, directly.

And he said to him, ‘Follow me,’ and he rose and followed him.” (Mark 2:14). In this instance, when Jesus saw Levi, Jesus did not content himself with relationships he already had. Jesus saw the tax collector, Jesus spoke directly to the tax collector, and Jesus invited the tax collector to follow him. Why? Because Jesus came for the spiritually sick. “The healthy do not need a doctor” he’d say elsewhere (Luke 5:31). Levi was one of those who knew he needed the spiritual doctor. He “rose and followed him.

It is easy to grow comfortable with only people you normally hang around. I feel it too. Sometimes when we see someone unfamiliar or ‘strange’ or ‘one of those type of people’ (whatever that means for you: too pierced, too poor, too wealthy, or too religious even) our words, our looks, and actions can do more to say ‘please stay out’ than ‘follow Jesus with me.’ But how will we know if they are seeking God or not?

As you enter the month of August, finishing summer and seeing fall approach, will you tune-up your eyes to look for the spiritually sick? Will you pray for and engage church outsiders in your neighborhood? We have good news. Good news to those who are perishing. We share the same news we ourselves need to hear everyday, “Jesus, what a friend for sinners.”

God’s grace and truth be yours, Pastor Jeff

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