Encountering Jesus . . .

I’ve been thinking about Matthew and his life-changing encounter with Jesus:

Jesus left that place, and as he walked along, he saw a tax collector, named Matthew, sitting in his office. He said to him, “Follow me.” Matthew got up and followed him. (Matthew 9:9)

When Jesus called to Matthew, Matthew responded immediately. He just got up from his work table and went. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever met someone whose invitation filled you with such longing and passion that you just left everything behind–all your cash, all your belongings, all your “connections,” even your own family–and went with them? Matthew didn’t even have to think about it.

Like Solomon, Matthew knew the pain of an “is this all there is…” existence. He longed for meaning in his life, beyond his business, his “social importance,” and his current circumstances. Jesus looked into Matthew and saw his heart’s cry. His eyes said “My brother. . .” His heart said “Come . . .” And Matthew just got up and walked–away from the tax records, away from his business, away from the cash on the table and his assets, and away from his “is this all there is” existence.

He understood that nothing he had ever worked for in his entire life was worth hanging around for. He knew this call from a mysterious rabbi was worth leaving it all behind. That was Matthew’s “God Moment” . . .

Do you know that longing?

I have. And everything I have ever laid down or left behind pales in comparison with the relationship I have now, with my Jesus. It’s never been about finding a new group, or new friends, or even a new church community. It’s *only* about being in an ongoing, increasingly intimate relationship with Jesus.

Following Jesus is a covenant relationship-like being married. You choose each other–first and foremost–and after that, you decide together where to live, how to relate with the world, and what to do. But it’s all about the two of you, making a life together. Everything else–your family, your life choices, your friends, and even your “stuff” lines up behind your primary relationship with Him. That’s what being reborn means. In Him, you have a brand new life–He changes you–forever.

I give them real and eternal life. They are protected from the Destroyer for good. No one can steal them from out of my hand. The Father who put them under my care is so much greater than the Destroyer and Thief. No one could ever get them away from him. I and the Father are one heart and mind.” (John 10:28-30)

He has healed my wounds, restored my heart, redeemed me from meaninglessness, and given me love I have never had from anyone else in my life. And, in the process, He’s taught me to love you all. He’s given me His heart. That’s a God thing.

While Jesus was having a meal in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and other outcasts came and joined Jesus and his disciples at the table. Some Pharisees saw this and asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such people?” Jesus heard them and answered, “People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick. Go and find out what is meant by the scripture that says: ‘It is kindness that I want, not [religious ritual.]’ I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts.” (Matthew 9:10-13)

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