Formations Lesson for February 21- A Question of Fellowship
February 8 2010 by DuPre Sanders, pastor, Roxboro Baptist Church

Focal Passage: Matthew 9:9-13 

I was a senior in high school applying for a scholarship to a liberal arts college. A letter of reference written by my pastor caused a member of the scholarship committee to identify me as a person who didn’t “smoke, curse, or chew; or run around with those who do.”

I was shocked to learn that he viewed this negatively. My parents had instilled in me the importance of good behavior and the need to be careful about the company I kept. I went to the college without the benefit of a scholarship!

Looking back on that experience, I realize he was condemning the arrogant attitude, not the attributes. Arrogance causes us to feel superior to others and to treat them as if they are inferior.

Haughtiness is not a helpful attribute in God’s Kingdom work. That is the lesson in today’s Bible story.

Like most good stories, this one is driven by conflict between the protagonist (Jesus) and the antagonists (the Pharisees). It begins with Jesus’ encounter with Matthew, a tax collector. Tax collectors were hated and despised in Jesus’ day. The Jews hearing this story certainly would identify Matthew as the villain because he worked for the Roman government collecting taxes for a healthy commission.

The tax collectors were disbarred from attending the synagogue and were considered unclean by Jewish law. 

The shocking moment in the story is when Jesus approaches Matthew and, instead of condemning him, says, “Follow me.” And Matthew does.

As the story continues, we see Jesus and Matthew dining with a group of tax collectors and others who are identified as sinners. Who invited these people to the dinner party? Apparently, Matthew invited them to come and meet Jesus. It reminds us of the story of the Samaritan woman at the well and her invitation for her friends to come and see Jesus.

In recent years, churches have gone to great effort and expense to make their facilities handicap accessible. We provide special parking, wheelchair ramps, handicap-approved restrooms, elevators, and special seating for those with physical needs.

We welcome people into our congregation with physical infirmities. But what happens when a spiritually handicapped person comes into our presence? Do we really welcome them, or do we separate them from the true fellowship by not including them in the church’s ministry. Do we, like the Pharisees, leave those we consider to be spiritually inferior on the outside looking in?

Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13b).      
2/8/2010 6:23:00 AM by DuPre Sanders, pastor, Roxboro Baptist Church | with 0 comments

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