Matthew’s call is an interesting story, told in the gospel of Matthew 9:9-13:
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.
And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ But when he heard this, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’
We might ponder God’s call to each one of us, from where he has called us, and to what. While God certainly calls us to use our natural gifts and abilities for the kingdom, he often will call us to something new which effects in us transformation.
There are many ways that God effects transformation in his people. Biblically we see change being wrought through healing, through purging (the fire of God), times in the wilderness, dreams and visions, prayer and discipleship to name a few. A favourite verse of mine is Romans 8:28: We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. I take especial note of the ‘all things’ in this verse. I read this as that all things can be redeemed by God, nothing is wasted. All can be used for our understanding, some for our humility, everything can be used to help us learn and mature in Christ.
Think about Matthew’s experience as one who was despised, and also one whose lifestyle would have greatly changed with his decision to follow Jesus. How awesome it is, that God calls people from all sorts of backgrounds and gives them new life in Christ. It is presumed that Matthew’s original name was Levi as a similar story is told in Mark and Luke of a tax collector by that name. The name Matthew means ‘gift of God’. Perhaps Levi chose this for himself, or maybe Jesus gave him this new name. What a transformation though, to go from being despised, to seeing oneself as a gift from God (allowing here that this is about gratitude, not ego). This is to know oneself as grounded in God’s love.
With love and peace in the Lord,