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.
~ Matthew 9:9 NIV ~
People are always seeking after something in order to find fulfillment in their lives. Today, another great message from Ballard Church. This message focused on Matthew 9:9-13 and the calling of Matthew. The question proposed is: how are we following Christ and what does it mean to get up and follow after Him?
The guest pastor spoke on his own life and growing up within the Christian faith. His perception became one where he played the game – “Jesus Says,” (as it relates to the old game Simon Says) where rules were followed. As he relates how he followed the rules, he became cynical and judgmental toward those who were not following after the same rules. In relation to this, the Pharisees of the First Century had built up all these rules and requested that people change and follow the rules or they were not considered “righteous” in their eyes. Christ challenged this perception when, not only, did he call Matthew to follow after Him, he also went into the home with Matthew, other tax collectors and those considered sinners.
Today, many Christians may find themselves playing this “Jesus Says” game with those who are deemed sinners and are liken to the tax collectors of the First Century. Part of this is possibly due to fear of being around those whom we otherwise may judge and are cynical of. This is motivated by fear: Do we fear being around those who are not like us? Christ himself did not find it a problem to surround himself with the tax collectors and sinners. To Christ, these were the one’s who needed healing. These are the individuals who needed the mercy and love that Christ offers to one and all. In reality, no matter where we may find ourselves, we are sick because we all are sinners. The difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that we heeded the call to follow Christ.
As Christians, we must come to admit, acknowledge and have a deep awareness of our need to follow Christ and Christ alone. It is through following Christ are we able to find fulfillment in our own lives. In turn, through our following of Christ, we are able to approach those who also are sick and in need of following Christ – reaching out to them with the very love Christ has for all those who are seeking.
For Christians, we are being called out of our own arrogance and self-righteousness. We are being called out of the seat of the scornful and the seat of judgment. We are being called forth, not to follow after specified rules and regulations, we are merely called to follow after Christ. For those who are not Christians, Christ is calling you to follow him despite where you are currently at in your own life.
Here is the two perceptions from this message:
- Pharisee’s say – Change and then you are able to join us and follow us
- Christ says – Join us and follow after me and your life will change
Today, many people are like the Pharisees when they say, “When you are able to change your life and comply with the particular rules that are established then you are able to change and are able to join and follow us.” Yet, instead it is Christ’s message that says we simply get up and follow after Him and in so doing, we are able to change our lives through the power, love and relationship cultivated through Jesus Christ.
Here are four things to keep in mind:
- Being a sinner is not a disqualifer to follow Jesus Christ. In fact, the reason one is a sinner shows there is a need to seek after redemption that comes through Jesus Christ. Being a sinner is actually a pre-requisite in following Christ.
- Being a non-believer i snot a disqualifer. Even a Christian who is unsure of his/her beliefs is not a disqualifer in following after Jesus Christ.
- Invitation to follow Christ is an invitation to a relationship with Christ. The Christian faith is not established on a prescribed set of doctrines (while they are important); the Christian faith is predicated on the relationship we are able to cultivate with the Savior through our willingness to come to him and follow after him.
- Following after Christ ought to force me to focus on where I am at in my relationship with the Savior and not where any other individual is at or how they are living their lives.
Authentic Christian living is simply about following after the Savior. Whether you are a sinner (for we all are sinners), a non-believer or a Christian in a season of doubting their faith and relationship with Jesus Christ, or a Christian who continues to strive for a deeper and more fulfilling relationship. Wherever one is, the call is simple: Come follow me. We either stand up and follow Christ or remain seated and choose not to follow after him. What are you seeking after today in order to find peace and fulfillment in your life? Are you getting caught up in following rules and regulations or are you interested in following Christ?