27 Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector's booth.
"Follow me and be my disciple," Jesus said to him.
28 So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.
29 Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor.
Many of Levi's fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them.
30 But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus' disciples,
"Why do you eat and drink with such scum?*"
31 Jesus answered them,
"Healthy people don't need a doctor—sick people do.
32 I have come to call not those who think they are righteous,
but those who know they are sinners and need to repent."
Every time I read this passage I think about how prissy & precious we've become.
We don't hang with scum. They might ruin our reputation with our fellow prissy Christians.
Plus, these scum might become combative or persecute us or ridicule us for believing in Jesus.
How many of us spend time around nonbelievers?
How many of us only hang with fellow believers?
Tax collectors were at the very bottom of the social & religious paradigm – hated & reviled by everyone in Israel. What was it about Jesus that made them want to be around Him?
Since once we become His followers, Jesus spends all His time trying to make us like Him, wouldn't it follow that people who our culture hates & reviles should want to be around us?
Think of it this way – what if the people who directly influenced us to become followers of Jesus had been as prissy & precious as we are sometimes & not used their influence to guide us toward a commitment to Jesus?
Think about that...
And think about the nonbelievers all around us who just need someone (each of us) to show them the way to Jesus.