Psalm 25:1-10; Psalm 32; Matthew 9:2-13

Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and misfits?”

This story about what happened after the calling of Matthew resonates so deeply with me. I just love everything about it. First, the fact that Jesus calls Matthew, a tax collector, to join him as a disciple makes me smile. Tax Collectors were (and are) some of the most despised people in Palestine. He was considered a traitor to his people. Matthew was probably skimming and probably taxing the people a bit more than he ought to line his own pockets. Matthew was not a guy that anyone in Jesus' merry band would have chosen to associate with.

But, then it gets better.

Matthew throws Jesus a party and all kinds of disreputable characters show up. The Pharisees are nearly apoplectic.

Over the course of my years in ministry I have found myself associating less and less with church people. I find myself standing on the outside looking in at Christian subculture. My people are the ones at the pubs and cafes.

It’s pretty funny to receive the scorn of the modern day Pharisees.

I imagine Jesus just smirking and shaking his head as he responded to their critique, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.”

Too many of us are way too worried about being “above reproach” and not worried enough about loving well.

It’s just too easy to get focused on coddling insiders than it is to invite outsiders. For pastors, in particular, the insiders are our “customers.” We forget that our primary responsibility is not to the 99 but to the 1. What’s just as sad is that the 99 forget that they were at one time the 1.

This morning I’m pondering the reality that as a pastor I have this dual calling. The call to care for the insiders and those on the outside. How do I orient myself to this dual calling? How do I consistently hold a posture of loving well?