When I was a pastor at Central Baptist Church in George Street in the city it was always interesting to see who would come into worship on Sunday mornings and Friday evenings when we ran services. We had people coming from all over the world as they visited our beautiful city. I remember having a Prince come in one day. Other days we had NASSA Scientists, business executives and other high flyers. I was often daunted realizing that God had me in the pulpit preaching His word to these men and women! And whom am I other than just a normal ordinary follower of Jesus. It was also interesting observing how our church family welcomed these respected visitors.
On other occasions, and this was often, we had other visitors wander into our various services. These people were the ‘down and outs’ … the addicts, the homeless and the less well to do. They often had not showered or washed for days and were not dressed very well. They would sometimes smell of body odour, cigarettes and alcohol. Once again it was interesting witnessing how the church family reacted with these visitors. Often the visitors were left alone and people would come to me and ask me to deal with these people. I guess this is just a normal reaction to people we find very different to ourselves. These visitors often wanted help and, as I was the pastor, it fell to me to deal with! Not always but more often than not.
As I ministered to these ‘down and outs’, I often thought of how Jesus would deal with them and minister to them. It was not easy to be truthful. So I would think back to what I had read in the gospels to try and learn from Jesus. Jesus had a heart for those who society found difficult, odd and sometimes very demanding. Jesus is so different to us in so many ways. He came to save these difficult people too. In fact, He said that He didn’t come to save the righteous but the unrighteous. Today we examine one such case … Levi … the despised tax collector. And when Jesus called him to follow Him, remarkably he did, leaving behind all that was important to him. There is much in this little account for us to learn and be encouraged and challenged by. And Happy Mother’s Day to all our special mums!