After this Jesus went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi (Matthew) sitting at the tax booth; and He said to him, “Follow Me.” And he left everything behind and got up and began to follow Jesus.
The couple lived in a pretty quiet neighborhood, and they had many friends on their street. There was one neighbor, however, who stood out from the rest. He kept to himself most of the time and did not participate in anything the other neighbors organized. Whether it was a block party or yard sale, he was the one who sat out. That did not stop him from still talking to people, from gossiping and creating discord among the others. After years of having to deal with him, that neighbor moved. The couple hated to say it, but they were happy to see him go. Their efforts to love him and soften his heart never panned out. That is why they were so surprised when they walked into a new church sometime later and saw that same man at the pulpit ready to speak the word of God.
The tax collectors of Jesus’s time were seen as thieves and traitors among their own people. They were perceived as working for the enemy and contributing to the people being oppressed by adding to that oppression by their own greed. Matthew was one of those tax collectors, and some theatrical interpretations of scripture show him as someone who might have endured shame from his family because of his position. At a minimum, we understand that he was not viewed as a pillar of his community. Yet, Jesus would call this man, one who was working against the Jews, to be one of his disciples. That was as shocking as the picture we see above of Jesus eating and fellowshipping with these very tax collectors. It really speaks to the power of grace and clear vision in the call.
If it were up to us, we likely would disqualify many people from the hope of being called by God to do a great work for him because of what we see in those people. We see their sin and the pain they have caused us and others, we see their very evident shortcomings, and we might think that they are relegated to something less. We might think that they simply do not deserve to be called by God to work in his kingdom. The good thing is that our opinion does not matter, and God does not see as we do. God calls those He can use and desires to use regardless of circumstances or appearances. He sees what we do not, and that is great news for us. Not one of us is more deserving of being used by God than another. Father, thank You for looking beyond what we might consider disqualifications and seeing how we can be fruitful and worthy to be called.