Bible Reading: Luke 5:17-39
Did you ever not get picked for the team because you were not good enough? Were you ever left out because you were not part of the right crowd? Did you ever not get invited because you didn’t have enough money? People often place qualifications on other people in order for them to be accepted, or allowed, into their circle. If we are not careful…we can begin to think that God works in the same way. That He places qualifications on us in order for us to be acceptable to Him. That’s not so. Jesus accepts all people…no matter what their economic status, character quality, track record, race, job title, portfolio grade, or social acceptance may be. There is only one requirement…we repent of our sins and accept Him as our Savior. That may sound like two things…but that’s not so. You see, when we accept Jesus as our Savior it means that we believe that He saves us from the sin that we repent of. That’s one thing. And that one thing is totally and completely based on Who He is and what He has done…and has nothing to do with who I am and what I have done.
As your children grow up they may at times feel that they have to qualify for acceptance by their friends…or people that they want to be their friends. Don’t let them think that they have to qualify with God in order for Him to be their friend.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
Sometimes, when a company needs to hire someone they will put an advertisement in the classified ads of a newspaper. It will usually include a short description of the kind of work that will be done. I came across this list of funny Job Descriptions that cracked me up:
- Surgeon wanted for a new health clinic opening in the area. No experience needed. Must have own tools.
- Looking for 15 energetic individuals to replace 15 lazy individuals. Entry-level positions. No experience required. Paid weekly.
- Wanted: Grape Stompers. Must have good balance and large feet. Skinny folk need not apply.
- Wanted: Someone to grind or chew hay for horse with bad teeth.
- Men Wanted: for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success.
- Waitress Needed: Must be 18 years old with 20 years of experience.
- We are hiring: Low pay, bad hours, jerk boss. Apply now.
- Management Positions Available: Vacation, uniforms, meals and possible salary.
- Cab Drivers Wanted: Nights & Weekends. Must have good driving and criminal record.
Here is a list of traits that employers are often looking for when they interview someone for a job:
- In Control
- Ability to Adapt
Wow! Those are some tough requirements.
I don’t think that Jesus had read that list when He chose His disciples. They were a pretty rag-tag bunch. Just ordinary people…not supermen. For instance, there was Matthew. He sure wasn’t the cream-of-the-crop. Matthew was a Tax Collector. That meant that while he was a Jew…he worked for the Roman government (they were Gentiles, not Jews). Basically, the Jews despised the Romans. They had conquered their country in battle. They forced them to obey their laws. They charged them huge taxes. Tax Collectors had a bad name among the Jews. The Jews thought that the Tax Collectors were traitors since they worked for the Romans collecting those taxes. There were all sorts of taxes. There was a tax on the money that you made, import and export tax, sales tax, property tax, emergency tax, crop tax (on crops such as oil and fruit), wine tax, and more and more. The Romans hired Jews to be the Tax Collectors. Basically, Jewish men would bribe the Romans for the job. Whoever was willing to give the most money to the Romans would get the job. In return, the Romans would determine how much tax the Tax Collector was supposed to charge…and then let him keep anything more that he could get. The Romans wouldn’t tell everyone how much tax they were charging…only the Tax Collector. For instance, if the Romans charged a $1.00 tax on something…and the Tax Collector charged $1.25…the Tax Collector got to keep the extra 25 cents. Some Tax Collectors became very, very rich by forcing other Jews to pay a lot of taxes…a lot more than what the Romans required.
Jesus chose Matthew, a Tax Collector, to be one of His disciples. Then, Matthew invited Jesus and all of his Tax Collector buddies to come to dinner at his home. This really made the Jewish leaders mad. They despised the Tax Collectors…and here was Jesus, right in the middle of them. Treating them like normal, respectable people. Treating them like people that God loved. See, that was the issue, the problem, right there. The Jewish leaders didn’t love the Tax Collectors…and they decided that God didn’t, either. They thought that God loved them because of all the good things that they did…and that God didn’t love the Tax Collectors because of all the bad things that they did. But Jesus didn’t agree with that. He said that God loves everybody…good and bad. In fact, He gave a warning to the Jewish leaders. He told them that nobody, including them, would ever get to God by being good. That’s not the way. You come to God by realizing that actually all of us…good and bad…are sinners. The only way that anyone can come to God is to repent of his sin and ask God to forgive him. The problem that the Jewish leaders had was that they thought that they were so good…that they didn’t need to repent…because they didn’t have any sin to repent of. Wrong! I’ll bet those Jewish leaders were thinking, “Well, if Jesus thinks that God will accept those no good, sorry, sinful, traitor Tax Collectors if they repent…then He must think that God will accept anyone who repents!” Right! That’s the way to come to God. Nobody gets a special exemption. Nobody gets a deal. Nobody can be good enough. Everyone…every one…comes to God the same way. Why? Because nobody can be good enough to come to God on their own, because of their good deeds and works. We are all sinners. But here is the Good News. Good sinners and bad sinners both come to God in the same way…by repenting of their sins.
Love you more than bunches and bunches,