The guy, his favourite passage is Jesus meeting the woman at the well. He tells me of how gobsmacked he is every time he reads it; the Son of God met a woman like that (me & you regardless of gender) and spoke to her – not down to her:
but spoke intelligently to her
He loves this, he loves the openness of Jesus to meeting people where they are at. He loves that Jesus met him and changed him and is changing him day by day.
I love “the guy.”
In the passage today we meet many folk but the two that stick out are Levi and the guy on the mat. Do you know what sticks out more than anything else to me?
They had friends.
When Jesus ate with Levi, there were others there;
many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples
When he healed the guy on the mat;
Some men came, bringing to him a paralysed man, carried by four of them.
There are no numbers attached to either as regard friends: Some men…carried by four indicates there were more men routing for this guy, hoping with faith that their friend would receive the healing he so desperately needed. At Levi’s home, it is likely every space was filled with more outside.
A friend of Levi sitting with Jesus eating a meal is on the surface a very genteel and civilised act of ordinariness. A meal is a place to get to know people better, to relax and share. I am a bit fed up with surface, surface “weather talking,” surface Christianity, let’s not scratch that itch chatting over tablecloths and butter knives.
It is time to go deeper; deeper individually but deeper with friends too. But it is so hard, people have such defences that they just will not lower and I am not immune. But it is boring to skim across the surface of a relationship without delving into the depths.
I can count on one hand my pointy friends, the ones who ask the awkward questions: one lives in a village close by, we say maybe eight or ten words to each other per week but boy do those words count, another lives less than 5km away and we know if we are avoiding each other then there is something that needs to be shared and we hold each other accountable, another lives in a neighbouring county – she knows without me opening my mouth that I am struggling with something and equally I can see her pain as she struggles, distracting herself with project after project never standing still, and then there is Truly – some people are given virtue names for them to live up to but this special person is truly all for Jesus, truly a discipling disciple, truly the person I would want to sit next to on a journey to the moon, truly special. It is good there are sixty or more miles between us because I don’t think we would ever do anything else except disciple each other if we were closer.
Do I need more pointy friends?
Yes, we all do. Not those that sit on high in judgement, pontificating wisdom as if they have all the answers but seldom do. But really honest to goodness sharing and accountability. We just have to imagine the Lord sitting with us, the One who can see right through all our defence mechanisms and into our heart, even those dark hard to reach areas.
Levi’s friends didn’t know they were sitting with the Messiah, but they knew he was a teacher and their knowledge was such that they knew this was a big deal. They knew the other teachers – the ones who looked down at them, the ones who wouldn’t speak to them.
Father God, help us not to judge, not to be defensive, not to hold back, help us jump in with both feet and meet people where they are at. Help us build each other up by challenging and encouraging so that together we might get deeper into You. Lord help us this day when we meet those who do judge us to not retaliate, to not be vengeful but to show Your love, the greatest weapon in the world. Lord help us to extend Your kingdom and invite strangers to sit and eat with us, help us to see beyond the surface, help us see beyond the trappings that bind people, help us love as You first loved us. Amen