Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – October 17, 2020
After this he went out and saw a tax-collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up, left everything, and followed him. Luke 5:27-28 (NRSV)
Though we are still very much in the midst of a challenging pandemic season, over the past few weeks I’ve found myself reflecting upon the early months of this year, especially the first few weeks of the pandemic. I recall reading a headline or two about a virus that was rapidly spreading in China, yet seemed so distant and removed from my everyday life that I must confess I paid little to no attention to it. Yet within a matter of days our entire world was upended and we all found ourselves quarantined and sheltered in our homes, afraid for our own health and those we love. Added to this was the economic impact of this pandemic, with millions unemployed overnight and financial markets crumbling everywhere we turned.
While you may have experienced the exact details of these events differently, the remarkable thing about this pandemic is that I am fairly confident that, on the whole, you can immediately resonate with this sense of confusion and disruption. And so, here is the question for all of us to ponder today, especially with a bit of distance now between us and those early days of this pandemic: how did you respond when your world was threatened and even turned upside down?
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, one of the best questions I’ve been asked in recent years is, “What comes out when you are squeezed?” If I am being honest, when I was squeezed this spring, a desire for stability and self-protection came out. My thoughts quickly turned to my employment, my mortgage, and tuition for my children’s school. On and on the list could go. And with each of these threatened I found myself feeling helpless and unable to control the outcome of the situation. Was this response motivated out of love for my family and a desire to protect them? Of course. Yet in that response I also discovered a deeply rooted sense of self-protection and self-sufficiency. While these may be great American virtues, they are not inherently Christian!
When Jesus calls Levi, he upends his entire world. Though hated by his Jewish peers for working with and for the Romans, Levi would have had significant economic and vocational stability. When Jesus says, “Follow me,” he invites Levi out of his comfortable and predictable life and into the joyous adventure of following him. How does Levi respond? “He got up, left everything, and followed him.”
As a deliberative and calculating person, Levi’s response is unsettling to me! Yet increasingly I wonder if “unsettling” is exactly what our Lord is aiming for with each and every one of us? Jesus longs to unsettle us from our self-assured complacency and reliance upon things of this world for our sense of comfort, protection, and self-worth. What would it look like for us to hear and respond to this invitation, and like Levi, leave everything and follow the call of Jesus upon our lives?
Father, teach us to follow you with all that we have, trusting that you are good and love us more than we even know how to love ourselves. Amen.
What came out when you were squeezed this spring? How has this pandemic revealed ungodly attachment to wealth, material goods, or the pursuit of earthly pleasures?
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