“He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.
“And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and sinners reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.” Mark 2:13-15 and Luke 5:28-29
Those who followed Jesus followed Jesus, where He went and whom He loved. Their connection with the Savior became so tight it morphed into connection with those He sought. The more time they spent with Him, the better they knew Him, and the more natural it was to do as He did and love whom He loved. The unease of new discipleship transformed into easy learning at His feet and among His laughter and conversation. Jesus is a remarkable connector of people and purpose.
When we come to know and hang out with Him in rich spiritual communion, the Lord makes great introduction to people and places we may not otherwise know or go. He is the One we follow, His the voice and mannerisms and graciousness we can learn and mimic. As we join Him in His work and ministry, we begin to think His thoughts. We perceive and pursue opportunities as holy missions in His manner and name.
When we get squeamish about certain assignments, or bristle at prickly individuals, or recoil at fearful unknowns, would we lock ourselves to Jesus and allow Him to connect and love through us? What seems unnatural (certainly spending time with righteous ‘church people’ was not normal for tax collectors) softens into natural as the Spirit of God erases prejudices and removes barriers between those made in His image. If we can’t find a connection, we can pray He will providentially reveal one, or more.
Do we shrink from uncomfortable situations because the people and practices are not as we would choose? We must remember, when God chooses to place us among certain people or in a challenging assignment, He goes before us to make a way and is on our side. He will plant in us divine grace, teach us ways to communicate, and show us where to go in conversation and care. People open up when they’re convinced we’re interested in and value them, and the Spirit can then usher us into meaningful discussion about truth and gospel love. (Psalm 32:8; Matthew 10:19; Mark 13:11; Luke 21:15; Romans 8:31)
How hospitable am I to society’s outcasts that I might share Christ with them? When do I deliberately pray for opportunities to join Jesus with ‘sinners’ to portray His light? What individuals has He put in my life who need Him, and what am I specifically doing to share time with, love on, and minister to them? Who might the Lord want to save and transform through a connection I make? Am I a willing and generous conduit of His grace?
Lord, keep me so closely following you that I go where you go, see how you see, serve as Your serve, and love as you love.