Braving the Deep

Day 1 of 5 • This day’s reading


 Matthew the Tax Collector Versus Simon the Zealot

These days, the western portions of the world seem so divided among people of different categories, groups, and ethnicities. Sadly, it doesn’t look that different within the Church. When did we become so separated? Well, Billy Graham remarked in the 1960s that the 11 o’clock hour on Sunday morning was the most segregated hour in America—and it still is sixty years later. So, what do we do? How do we fix a separation that was not prescribed by God for His Church?

The picture of the disciples gives us a starting point and is encouraging and challenging to all sides. Jesus calls both Matthew the tax collector and Simon the zealot to be among the 12 disciples who will (minus Judas Iscariot) lead the charge in spreading the Gospel to the entire world. The radical thing about Jesus calling Matthew and Simon is that they would have been on opposite ends of the spectrum concerning how they viewed Rome at that time. Matthew would have been considered what is called colloquially a “sell-out,” extracting money from his people to hand over to the occupying force, Rome. Simon was either a member of a sect well-known for opposing Rome, through force even, or he was a member of a group of Jewish men zealously committed to Jewish Law, which would have opposed Rome’s rule. It’s safe to say that these men would not have run in the same circles socially or politically at all.

Yet Jesus calls them both to walk in His footsteps and share the Good News to the world as brothers. How could they do that? What on earth could bring them together in this regard: Jesus. In accepting the invitation to be a disciple of Jesus, they knew they were committing to emulating His life with their very own, and that is what brought them from their opposite ends of the spectrum to the only place they could live together as one—in Jesus. 

Jesus extends that same invitation to us today. The question is, will we accept His invitation, or will we just pretend to? If we truly accept, we are committing to looking less and less like any faction created by man and more like citizens of the Kingdom of God. What say you?