Thursday, April 12, 2018

Taxes and Friends Day

I got the phone call today I always dread this time of year. ‘Your taxes are ready.’ The reason I dread it is because no matter how much I pay quarterly, I always have the privilege of paying a few thousand more. It’s one of the joys of being self-employed.

Nobody likes to pay taxes, and I've noticed that the resentment of the IRS has increased over their misuse of power. Yet, we don’t have it nearly as bad as people did in Jesus’ day. Back then, the tax collectors could collect more than a person owed and pocket the difference.

Jewish tax collectors were seen as traitors to their own people since they collected from Jews for Rome. Tax collectors were despised. While in Capernaum, Jesus walked over to this despised tax collector named Matthew. Jesus asked Matthew to be one of His followers.  Can you image how appalled the people were?

No one was more shocked than Matthew! He was not welcome in the Synagogue and was despised by his fellow Jews, but contrary to what he knew about himself, Matthew was chosen by Jesus as one of the original apostles.

What followed was a big reception for Jesus at Matthew’s house where he invited other tax collectors and his sinful friends (see Luke 5:27-32). Why would he do this? Well, Matthew was so moved that Christ had called him to be a follower, he wanted his friends to meet Jesus and recognize how this Jesus could change their lives too. So, he invited them all to his party to meet Jesus.

As Christ followers, I know you and I have friends far from God that we want to meet Jesus. One way that we can get them to hear how Jesus transforms people’s lives is to invite them to church. This Sunday is Friends Day. A time when we put a little more emphasis than every other week on inviting friends to church.

We begin a new series called ‘First Free Goes to Broadway.’ We will focus on salvation and redemption through stories found in the creative arts. This would be a great series to invite friends to hear the transforming power of the Gospel message.

When the religious leaders saw what Matthew did, they were appalled. They thought it was ridiculous that this man Jesus, who called Himself a Man of God, would mingle with sinners like that. Jesus responded, ‘It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’

Do you have some friends in need of the Savior? Invite them to join you this Sunday so they can hear how God loves them, how Jesus died for them, then conquered sin and death by being raised from the dead, and how they can be transformed by Him from the inside out.

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott

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