And he went forth again by the sea side; and all the multitude resorted unto him, and he taught them. And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphæus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him. And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.Mark 2:13-17
What does a Christian look like? Would it surprise you if I said that the typical Christian today looks more like the scribes and Pharisees in Jesus time than the disciples of Jesus?
America is a wealthy nation. Therefore, her people look wealthy. The poorest in America have more than many people around the world. The result is that, on the outside, American Christians look wealthy like the Scribes and Pharisees not like the average disciple found in the New Testament.
So what happens when someone walks in the doors of our home church that does not “look” like we do?
We may have a set idea of what a child of God “looks like” or “acts like,” but we should be very careful about how we judge visitors to our church or people we meet every day. The Lord has children all over the place in various stages of spiritual maturity.
I remember when we were trying to start Lewisville Primitive Baptist Fellowship in the late 1990’s. Elder Mike Ivey taught us about evangelism and how churches grow by helping people. He said that the folks we will be helping don’t necessarily look like us. They may come in the church doors the first time with purple hair and a nose ring!
Well, just a few months after that sermon, I took the call of Pastor for a church in West Palm Beach, Florida. One of the first Sundays I was there I entered the stand to preach and looked up to see a young lady with purple hair and a nose ring! I giggled (hopefully) to myself. I was not laughing at her. I was laughing because Brother Mike was absolutely right!
We do not know when Matthew (Levi) was born again. And honestly, it doesn’t really matter. We do know that he was still at the receipt of custom when Jesus called him and he could have still been practicing the sins of the publicans. Nevertheless, the Lord knew that Matthew was His, so He called him into discipleship. The Lord may be calling people around us right now that all we see in them is “sinner.”
Beware, we often look at others with the eyes of a Pharisee! We should seek to help ALL who come across our path.