As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He *said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him.
Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners. But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:9-13
When I read this scripture last week, it brought me back to High School gym class. I was not a sporty girl. Combine that with my hearing loss, and I was usually one of the last girls picked for the team. I am sure it seemed like I didn’t have much to offer.
Somehow, I don’t think people, particularly the Pharisees, thought Matthew was a good choice for Jesus’ team. They certainly didn’t approve of the people Jesus was eating with here.
I remember the looks and the intentional lack of eye contact from the leader, choosing the team. She would look right passed me, pretending she never saw me, like some of us, do to others in the grocery store.
Sometimes, I wish one of those team leaders would have chosen to see me. I wish they would have taken a chance on me, had been willing to come alongside me, and teach me something about the sport so that I could play it better. What if they took the time to give me some tips and show me things that would help me play better than I might have become a great asset for a team.
They didn’t see me and the potential I had to become better. Instead, these team leaders saw me, right where I was, and that is where they kept me.
I love that Jesus saw those tax collectors and sinners. He didn’t just see their sins. He saw the PERSON first!
He saw who they could be with Him coming alongside them. He saw where they could go if they had Him to follow.
He was willing to see them, love them where they were, and to come alongside them to show them who He was and who they could be.
I need to pause here and let you know I began writing this blog post a couple of weeks ago, before all the recent events happened. As I began to pray about how to blog in the midst of this season, God reminded me about this blog post and showed me how I could tie a few things in here with this message.
Jesus saw people, He didn’t see a tax collector or a Samaritan. He didn’t just see a sinner, He saw a soul that needed Him. That is the place He started.
We need to see each other as people, human beings, and someone created by God. Not what we are wearing, the color of our skin, the disability we have, or our career status.
Jesus sat with the people He came across. He ate with them, shared Himself with them, and took ridicule from those around Him because of it.
When I pray and ask for wisdom and discernment about how to be a light in these dark times, this is what He shows me. He has set the example already.
Everyone has a story, a past, a place of hurt that needs to be healed. There are many people who have been treated as though their life doesn’t matter. People with different skin color, people with disabilities, people who are overweight, older people, babies in the womb, people who have grown up in complete dysfunction and abuse, and the list goes on and on.
When we look at each other, may we see a human being, created by God and loved by Him. May we see each other as valuable and desire to love one another as God has loved us.
When we live this way, others may ridicule us, and we may get comments or looks, but may we do it anyway.
When we share God’s love and light with one another, it changes them, and it changes us. It may look like the wrong kind of team to someone else, but it is the team God put together, and it is the winning team because He is the best coach in the whole world.
I am incredibly thankful God loves me, He sees me, and He picked me to be on His team.
He loves you, He sees you, and He is calling your name to come to join His team. It may come with some ridicule, some dirty looks and snarky comments from others, but it is a team worth being a part of, and it is the winning team.