I thought Ben Pocock did a brilliant job kicking off our "Open House Bonfire" series on Sunday - if you missed it you can catch it here.
If you've read the Peach and the Coconut you'll know that I love to look at how Jesus interacted with the "sinners" in his society, the people the religious types wanted nothing to do with, and my heart that we look like Jesus to those same sorts of people. Over the last few years I've spoken about lots of different people Jesus met, but never Levi the tax collector who Ben spoke about on Sunday. You can read the story here.
One thing really intrigued me about the story. In verse 28 we read that Levi left everything and went and followed Jesus. I've always read that in a similar way to the rich young ruler we hear about in Mark 10, who Jesus challenged to sell everything he had, give to the poor and follow him. But then in verse 29 we read that Levi invites Jesus, and all of his tax collector friends, to a banquet at his house. Having left everything he still had a home, and he still had the resources to throw a spectacular feast. How does that tie in with him leaving everything?
Well I think the answer is in something brilliant that Ben said on Sunday. He posed a question I get asked quite a lot by church leaders as they look at Kerith, which is "who are our Sunday gatherings for - are they for believers, or are they for lost people?". Sometimes tied in with that is a suggestion that we've watered everything down to make it OK for people who don't yet follow Jesus, and that if we were a 'proper' church we'd only think about feeding Christians with no thought for lost people in our midst :)
Ben's answer was that our Sundays are not for lost people or believers, they're for Jesus. They're to glorify him, to reveal more of him, to worship him and to focus on him. That's who Levi held his banquet for. He invited his friends but it was for Jesus. That gives such a different focus. We want to create a space where followers of Jesus can grow to know him more, and people far from God can move closer to him. If it's all for Jesus then both of those things can happening at the same - in fact they need to both be going on as we gather together.
I think that explains how Levi could leave everything and still have his home and the resources to throw a party. In his heart his home was no longer his, it was for Jesus. His money and his food were no longer his, they were for Jesus. His friendships and his influence were no longer his, they were for Jesus.
I want to live like Levi. I may have a home, a family, friends, possessions, money, gifts, abilities, passion, ambition, influence but I want them to be for Jesus. I want all those things in my life to glorify him, to be for him and to be available to him to use in any way he wants. In reality I'm often a long way from living like that, but my prayer is that day by day I'll get closer to living a life which is truly for him.