(Good News Series – Part 2)
By Lauren M.
“As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ He told him, and Matthew got up and followed Him.” (Matt. 9:9, NIV)
Pointless but fun mobile games like “Paper Toss,” where you are given the chance to shoot virtual paper balls into a virtual waste basket, are a hit even now that more and more people use the computer instead of actual paper to create and edit documents. There’s just something that’s so satisfying about tearing off a sheet of paper from a notepad, crumpling it up and tossing it in the trash can once we’ve made too many mistakes while writing on it. And there’s something so refreshing about working with a new blank sheet of paper.
It’s natural for people with a less than ideal academic, work or even personal history to wish that they could also toss their own records in the garbage bin (or maybe even run them through the shredder). Others tend to judge us based on our past.
Our records can make others prejudiced against us even before they meet us face to face. Our chances of being accepted into a prestigious university are slim if we used to get more Cs and Ds than As and Bs when we were in high school. Our dream jobs might really remain as our jobs only in our dreams if our resumes aren’t impressive enough. And if we have a criminal record? It might be especially difficult for us to rebuild our lives.
Not everyone is willing to give people who’ve had failures and who’ve made mistakes a chance (of course, there are exceptions too – thankfully:) That’s a really good thing for persons like me who are trying to start over again). It’s not always easy to begin all over again.
If we follow Jesus around as He chose His followers, we might scratch our heads in confusion. He was an unconventional leader because he didn’t seem to bother at all with resumes, school transcripts or even criminal records. He handpicked recruits with an utter disregard for their past lives, which were not exactly ideal.
Matthew was a tax collector who was despised by his fellows Jews because they considered him a traitor to Israel. Yet Jesus not only asked Matthew to follow Him in spite of his seedy background, He actually invited the man to follow Him while he was still sitting in the tax collector’s booth (Matt. 9:9-11)
Peter was such a brash and hot-headed person that, if he lived during our time, well-meaning people would probably recommend that he attend anger management classes. Yet Jesus chose the impulsive Peter to be one of His apostles and even one of His closest friends (Lk. 6;13:14).
Paul was, in a sense, even worse than Matthew and Peter because he actually had a blood-stained “resume.” He participated in the murder of Stephen the martyr and persecuted many other Christians as well (Acts 7:58, 8:1). Yet Jesus called Paul to be His special servant – precisely while he was on the way to persecute other believers (Acts 9:1-6)!
If we read the gospels, we will become acquainted with even more people with questionable records whom Jesus welcomed as part of His team and as part of His life. No matter how many personal mistakes or failures we wish we could toss in the waste basket, we can have a new beginning in Christ.