The Duty of All Believers

JESUS SPEAKING

                He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office.  And he said to him, “Follow Me.”  So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.  Then Levi gave him a great feast in his own house.  And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them.  And their scribes and Pharisees complained against his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”  Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have come to call sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5: 27-32.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Tax collectors in Israel were Jewish citizens who had ‘sold-out’ to the Roman Empire, and turned against their own people.  The Roman taxes were severe, and tax collectors earned their wages by overtaxing the people; in turn, they were passionately despised.  The religious leaders were enraged because Jesus was eating with tax collectors and sinners.   Jewish meals were extremely intimate affairs; those who dined together dipped in to the same bowls and drank from the same cups.  Most Jews were very careful who they ate with, because they falsely believed that sin could be transferred from person to person through the sharing of food.  The Son of God however, was not concerned with being contaminated by the sins of those he dined with.  Instead, his purity was contaminating and cleansing the dirty hearts of those who ate with him.  The messiah, the chosen one, sent of God had a distinct purpose; he came to seek the lost; he came to bring light in to the darkest of hearts; he came to cleanse the dirty, and to reach those the world had set aside and rejected.

                In 1464 a block of Marble weighing nearly 9 tons was shipped to the workshop of the Cathedral of the Santa Maria Del Fiore in Italy.  An artist was commissioned to carve a massive sculpture of a young King David.  It is said the artist abandoned the project because the piece of marble contained too many flaws (or veins—veins in marble are weaker than the surrounding stone, which can cause it to crack and break.)  So the flawed block sat in the yard for nearly a decade; until another artist was commissioned to continue the work; apparently he also foresaw problems with the veining in the marble and walked away.  Again, the scarcely carved stone block was pushed to the back of the yard where the sun, wind, and rain beat down on it for nearly 25 years.  Then in 1501 a 29 year old sculptor named Michelangelo looked at the stone optimistically.  He didn’t see an old dirty block of marble taking up space; he didn’t reject it as a defective throw away, fit for the trash heap.  Unlike the other sculptors, Michelangelo saw the giant slab, not as it was, but as it could be.  Michael Angelo accepted the commission to complete the work because he believed that he could create a masterpiece from a worn down, dirty block of marble.  In 1504, after nearly 3 years of work, the Statue of David was completed; immediately it was marveled over; its beauty and elegance were heralded by even the harshest of critics.  Today, the statue of David is on display in Florence Italy, and is unquestionably one of the most beautiful marble sculptures ever created.

                Like Michelangelo, Jesus Christ is a master craftsman whose purpose is not to attempt to improve perfect people, but to take the worst people and transform them in to divine works of art.  As followers of Jesus Christ, our duty is to reach out to those who are outcasts.  Rather than turning our backs on sinners, we are to embrace them in love.  We shouldn’t just see sinners for who they are, but instead, as who might become (with the assistance, love, and attention of an all powerful divine creator.)  Reach out to the lost; make friends with the weak; dive in to the trash heap and pull out the people the world has discarded.  He has sent us in to the world to reach those who have gone astray and to bring hope to the hopeless.  Are you willing to be an instrument God can use to accomplish a masterpiece?

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You today and we ask that You use us to reach those who are sick.  Give us a heart for everyone the world has rejected.  We yearn to be instruments that You can use to transform the lives of sinners.  Therefore we lay ourselves at Your feet and place our lives in your capable hands; make use of us as You see fit.  Father, we love You, we thank You, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you. 

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