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, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.
Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 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’?”
Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:27-32
If you were to randomly ask a person on the street that didn’t come to church if they thought Christians were humble the answer would be a resounding NO! Can you blame them?
Mark Twain, with a twinkle in his eye, once said, “Having spent considerable time with good people, I can understand why Jesus liked to be with tax collectors and sinners.”
What is a diagnostic for the lack of humility? Try this: Thinking or speak in condescending terms or tone about another person or people group.
The truth is that I bring nothing to the table to commend me to God and yet God wants to hang out with me anyway simply because He is merciful.
We Christ followers start out with Jesus in humility and we are amazed by grace, but somewhere along the way we get a victory over a sin problem, a bad habit or behavior and when we get around folks who still struggle with those issues we condescend internally and eventually externally.
What has happened to us? We have forgotten that we were accepted by God by his grace and mercy not because we were “clean.” And the spirit of religion and Pharisaism has slithered into our lives.
The Christian journey begins and ends at the same place: Grace and Mercy.
In quiet moments, I wonder if unbelievers ask themselves this question: Am I welcome in the presence of God? And often they do a thought experiment by imagining if they would be welcomed in the presence of God’s people. How they formulate that response in their imagination has eternal implications.
We become arrogant because we have forgotten that grace punched our ticket into the family of the living God; and grace alone.
We say in our church, “No perfect people allowed” and “This is a hospital for sinners not a hotel for saints” but the proof of those words is evidenced by the opinions of people who are not sitting in the chairs on Sunday mornings.
Jesus made it his practice to sit down for a meal with messed up people. Folks who have done worse things than anything you have done. He sought them out. He broke bread with them. He will with you, too.