February 1, 2016
Jesus tells a tax collector (Levi) to follow Him. The first act of the tax collector is to invite people to a dinner with him to invite them to Jesus. He arranged a great banquet in his home (Luke 5:29). A large group of other tax collectors – Levi’s buddies – came and invited others as their guests (Luke 5:29). This was a big event.
As usual, somebody complains about it. The legalisms come and complain: “Why are you hanging out with tax collectors and sinners?” (Luke 5:30) The real motive is to tell Jesus that He is hanging out with the wrong crowd. The question shows that the religious care only about themselves. This highlights a classic problem with churches. We tend to think about only ourselves. We tend to insulate ourselves and think only about our interests.
Jesus’ answer praises Levi’s efforts and makes a valid point. Jesus says that He is interested in the lost, not the religious (Luke 5:31). Jesus wants to see people changed from sin to life, from lost to repentance (Luke 5:32).
The idea of hosting a dinner and inviting the community is an excellent approach to reach the lost. Jesus praised an idea from a person who is still connected to the lost. This shows another principle: the best ideas about how to reach the lost usually come from people who are more connected to the lost.
We need to take the initiative to brainstorm new ideas about reaching the lost. Instead of acting like the Pharisees, we need to see the people for who they really are – sick people needing community, help, and salvation.