By Dr. Grant Scarborough
Jesus met Levi, a tax collector of the day. Levi was hated by his own people. He took their money and gave it to the Romans. It’s tax season and I just decided I don’t like Levi either.
Jesus found Levi working at his tax booth. Jesus says, “follow me” and Levi “leaves everything.” Levi throws a great party – a feast and invites all his friends. He invited other tax collectors, acquaintances, and Jesus. Everyone else grumbled. “Why does Jesus eat with those people? They are tax collectors and sinners.” (Luke 5)
I hope you can all see the obvious application and guilt trip that is coming. I read this passage and thought – “Man, when was the last time I threw a party like this!?” “Now you, you sorry little Christian, get out of your comfort zone and throw a party!” Guilt trip successful. Get out of your comfort zone! Throw a big party. Hmm – throw it at least once a year, I guess. That is about right.
But my application is wrong! My guilt trip took a wrong turn. Jesus is not a rich white American that throws an annual party for the less fortunate.
Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” This was not an annual party for Jesus – it was a lifestyle. It was His mission. He did not get out of His comfort zone for them.They were the reason He came. It was right in the middle of his wheel house. It was his zone. He came for the sick and for the sinners. He met with them, went with them, and he sought them out.
Our Christian life and outreach does not need to be summed up as an annual party but a lifestyle of devotion to Jesus. Our comfort zone should be in daily devotion to Christ. For Christians, being out of our comfort zone should be when we take our eyes off of Christ and focus on ourselves. The reality is that most Christians live in the latter. Those 364 days of “normal” living – and the one great party we finally throw is really our comfort zone.
Lord, please help me live in such a way that reaching out to others is my comfort zone. That caring for others, carrying other people’s burdens, serving others, helping the elderly, eating with the homeless is my comfort zone. Show me, Lord, that this is how You have called me to live. And Lord give me one or two days a month to get out of my comfort zone – – and go fishing.