>What is the Church? Day 2: Accepting

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:9-13 (NIV)

One of the values that I admire about Brookwood Church is that we accept people as they are. Think about it. How else would we accept them? I suppose we could put them on some sort of probation and accept them for what they might become or accept the parts we like, but not the rest. But, to be part of a place that doesn’t judge and truly loves. Now that’s something. (Cue the “Cheers” theme song in the background).

I find this passage interesting because Jesus met a despised tax collector named Matthew. Now, tax collectors of the day were often ruthless and unfair to the public. Most earned their poor reputation, not to mention a little cash out of the till.

Matthew was a tax collector. The passage doesn’t say that he was kind or fair, so we can assume that he was just like the rest. Matthew needed Jesus just like the sick need a doctor.

We should also note that this Gospel is written by Matthew, the tax collector, who became a disciple and later an apostle. Jesus looked past his tax booth and saw a life to rescue, a soul to save, and a man to empower. As Neil Cole says, “You see great growth in sinful people because there’s so much fertilizer in their lives.”

Think about the people you meet. What does Jesus think of them? Who would Jesus reject? Is there someone in your life who needs to be accepted and encouraged? What can you do to show acceptance today?

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.