Mercy or religion

I’ve recently been inspired by Jesus’ encounter with Matthew and his tax collector friends.1 Given the animosity between Jews and tax collectors it’s amazing that Matthew appears perfectly comfortable joining Jesus and his group of followers. What was it about Jesus and the community he was forming that made Matthew feel welcome? When Matthew throws a party Jesus seems quite at home with Matthew’s guests. Then when challenged about his choice of friends, Jesus says these were the people he came to bring to God. 

It is from a heart of compassion that Jesus sees and moves toward people who are lost to God. Jesus models and encourages mercy toward others, not restrictions and rules. As you can imagine, this won him an audience with Matthew’s friends, many of whom seem to have become followers.

Jesus challenges me to look for opportunities to act with compassion and mercy. I am challenged to be more among those who don’t know God, developing genuine friendships. I am also encouraged to speak freely about Jesus as I have opportunity. This is part of what Jesus had in mind when he told his followers to be and to pray for more labourers.   

Question to reflect on

If your friends and colleagues had to describe you, do you think they would describe you as someone showing mercy and acceptance of others OR would they see you as being more about restrictions and rules?

Matthew 9:9-13, see also Mark 2:13-17