13 Then Jesus went out to the lakeshore again and taught the crowds that were coming to him.
14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax collector's booth.
"Follow me and be my disciple," Jesus said to him.
So Levi got up and followed him.
15 Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests,
along with many tax collectors and notorious sinners.
(There were many people of this kind among Jesus' followers.)
16 But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples,
"Why does he eat with such scum?"
17 When Jesus heard this, he told them,
"Healthy people don't need a doctor—sick people do.
I have come to call not those who think they are righteous,
but those who know they are sinners."
I've said it before. I'll say it again.
There was a quality about the personhood of Jesus that people were simply drawn to.
Yes, Jesus is both God & a man.
But before we use that as an excuse for not drawing people to ourselves, don't we all believe Jesus lives inside us once we become followers?
In my life, I have known some people who really did seem to be filled with the Spirit of Jesus.
And what was there about each of these people that drew us to them?
It was the quality of their love for us as individuals.
One of those kinds of people for me is Dennis Kinlaw, then president of my college alma mater, Asbury College (now Asbury University).
He's a brilliant man – PhD, an Old Testament scholar, always had a LOT going on as president, & always gave me the feeling whenever I was around him that he was reading me like a book.
But I remember countless times encountering him on campus, & whenever I talked to him, he made me feel like I was the most important thing going on in his life right then.
He focuses on you when talking to you because he's mostly listening to you.
And after living around that for the 5 years of my undergraduate I knew I wanted to be like that.
I've been working on it ever since.
The question for all of us is this – do “notorious sinners” - people who may not be anything close to being considered a follower of Jesus – find a quality of about our life (Jesus inside us) that makes them WANT to be around us?
Do we communicate that when we're talking to them, they are the most important thing going on at the moment?
Do they feel like we love them, not in some broad, general sense, but as individuals?
Are we willing to risk having our super holy friends think were some sort of nut case or “backsliding” by just being around people who don't even pretend to follow Jesus?
Here's another impetus to hang out with people who have no God connection...
...where would you & I be if the people who had major impact & influence on us to become Christ followers hadn't been willing to hang with each of us before we nailed down a decision to follow Jesus?