As Christians, sometimes it’s easy to surround ourselves with great Christian friends and only hang out with them and other Christians. Don’t get me wrong, God wants us to have great Christian friends who we enjoy being around. God also wants us to expand our circle of friends to include those who don’t know Him. For whatever reason, this is difficult, especially when it comes to forming new relationships and meeting new people. What I have discovered is the more we allow God to push us out of our comfort zone, the more He uses us to make an impact in the lives of others. When you stretch yourself and go beyond the levels of your comfort, you experience parts of God you would otherwise miss.

In this story we see Jesus approach a group of tax collectors and He invites them to dine with Him.  We know that tax collectors were outcasts and were considered traders amongst their own people. Yet, we know that one of them became one of Jesus’ twelve disciples and spent the rest of his days serving the Savior of the world.

Matthew 9:9-13 NLT
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

When Jesus called Matthew, to be His disciple, he followed! Even though Matthew left his responsibilities to follow Jesus, he didn’t forget his friends and loved ones. He threw a dinner party and invited his fellow tax tax collectors and friends to his home so that they could listen to Jesus and receive spiritual healing. Unlike the self-righteous Pharisees, Jesus didn’t look down on those who were far from Him, instead, He was moved with compassion and mercy towards them. Jesus didn’t condone their sins; but introduced them to spiritual healing through a relationship with Him. We know from Mark’s account of this story that many of Matthews associates and friends followed Jesus. All because Matthew cared enough to invite them!

It might have been easier for Matthew to follow Jesus and never look back. We know from this story he cared enough about those around them to introduce them to Jesus! I pray that you are encouraged today by Matthew’s example and get involved with the people God has placed around you; some that you may not even know yet! You never know where God might lead your relationships.

Pray that God will reveal someone new to you who you can connect with and build a relationship that will point them to Jesus. Ask God to reveal to you those who are already in your sphere of influence who are waiting for your to invite them to Jesus! Once He has revealed someone to you, begin to look for opportunities to invite them to meet Jesus. 

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