I work in sales and that means a lot of networking, lunches, and coffee dates. I am constantly passing my business card to people when my job gets brought up in normal, everyday conversations. If you’re reading this, you probably know someone like me. (Or you are like me!)
But I work largely on commission. If I don’t sell, I don’t pay the mortgage.
So when someone called me up the other day I was elated to hear the first words out of their mouth:
“My friend from church recommended you.”
But then they followed it up with…
“I only like to work with Christians.”
My heart dropped. It made me sad (and admittedly a little angry) but I couldn’t pinpoint why in the moment. I tried to put it towards the back of my mind, finished taking the guy’s order, and closed him out.
As the next few days rolled on, I couldn’t shake those two simple sentences:
“My friend from church recommended you. I only like to work with Christians.”
Why did it bother me so much? What made me initially recoil when I heard him say it? Why was I legitimately angry when I remembered our conversation?
Shortly after starting His ministry, Jesus called His first disciples — Peter, John, and James. These weren’t educated men, they were fishermen. Day laborers. It was a little out of the ordinary, but it wasn’t outrageous.
But then shortly after, Jesus did do something outrageous. He invited Levi, also called Matthew, to join Him. A tax collector? This guy was the enemy, right? How was Jesus going to invite a guy who worked against His own people into intimate fellowship?
And the first thing Levi does is host a party at his house for Jesus. Okay, well, maybe Levi is coming around. Who wouldn’t host a part for Je … wait a minute! Who’s he inviting to this party? More tax collectors? And are those sinners coming too? What in the world is going on?!
The world is getting turned upside down. That’s what’s going on.
You see, when we as Christians only hang out with other Christians, we’re not following the example of Jesus. This wasn’t just something He did as an afterthought or an aside — Jesus was spending His time with the out crowd from the very beginning. It was a foundational part of His character and His ministry!
If I had to do it all over again, I probably wouldn’t change the way I initially talked with the customer who called me on the phone. But I would have made it a point to deliver his items myself. And I might have asked him…
“Hey, I couldn’t help but think about when you first called me and said you only like to work with Christians. I’m curious, why is that?”
Because if we’re only willing to work with (or eat with or have coffee with or watch a football game with) other Christians, we’re not following the example of Jesus — because Jesus, the image of an invisible God, looked at fishermen, tax collectors, zealots, and sinners and said:
“I can work with that.”
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