Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost… ~ Jesus
One of the striking things about Jesus is that He didn’t work real hard to make sure He put together a small group of people who were naturally compatible with each other.
One of them was a man named Simon the Zealot. Zealots were an extremist nationalist political party, committed to the overthrow of the Roman government by any means possible, violence if necessary, and sometimes assassinations. They hated the Romans.
The only people they hated more than the Romans were the people who collaborated with the Romans, like tax collectors who were Jewish people willing to collaborate with the Romans for corrupt financial gain. Zealots were freedom fighters or terrorists, depending upon your political point of view.
Jesus is forming a small group, and He says, Simon, you’re a Zealot. You despise Romans and collaborators like tax collectors. I’ll take you.
And then He says, Matthew, you’re a collaborator and a despised tax collector. I’ll take you. You room with Simon. You guys should have some interesting talks with each other.
Can you imagine what it was like?
When Jesus called his disciples, He comes to Peter and Andrew and they’re casting their nets from the shore, which typically would have meant that they couldn’t afford a boat. They would have been quite poor.
And then He comes to James and John. We are told they have a boat. In fact, He leaves them with their father who is with his other hired men. In other words, he has employees. This is a much higher operation. These are a couple of sets of brothers who are in quite different financial spheres.
Have you ever heard of anybody dealing with envy issues over who has what possessions, or over who lands where vocationally or financially? Jesus puts people in a small community; they have a lot of problems with each other. James and John come back to Jesus later on with their mommy and they have her say for them,
You know, after it’s all over, we’d like to be the ones that sit next to you in Heaven on your right or your left.
Jesus was always teaching about servanthood—die to yourself—and this was what they had their mommy come and ask Him to do? The other ten hear about this, and they are really mad with James and John. This is not a real easy Community.
Jesus did not come to create a Community for perfect people who all have natural chemistry with each other. What made His Community explode was this implacable, Spirit-empowered determination of those within the Community to lavish love on anybody who could possibly stand it!
You will never go wrong by underestimating the hunger of a human being just to be loved. We are bound together by grace.
The Church is a family where water runs thicker than blood.
Listen, it doesn’t matter what your past is like. You are welcome in the family of Jesus of Nazareth. If you have checkered past, you are welcome here. If you have no money, you are welcome here. If you have lots of money, you are welcome here. If you are a political conservative, you are welcome here. If you are a political liberal, you are welcome here.
We are bound together by grace and nothing else.