When I was a student I had a student job of taking a political tolerance survey. One of the parts of the survey asked what group you most disliked (nazi’s, white power, KKK, mongrel mob, traffic warden etc..) Then later on a question was asked if you would be happy for that group to speak (and possibly) recruit in Cathedral Square. It turned out that most of us believe in freedom of speech for the people we agree with.
Discuss : What group do you dislike ? How would you feel about them speaking in Cathedral square ?
Levi is a tax collector.
Native tax-collectors were despised by “upright” Jews for at least three reasons:
1) their job required close contact and collaboration with Gentiles;
2) they were notoriously unscrupulous bureaucrats;
3) they were representatives of the oppressive colonial administration.
Read Mark 2:13-14
Jesus has broken the rules. Rabbi’s are supposed to be approached, not approach. And he has approached someone of the group that is unlike what we like. He has approached an ‘Other’.
Then the scene changes. Imagine a party with lots of the people you don’t like. The stereo is pumping (and noise control is on their way). People are smoking, drinking and (insert behaviour here).
And Jesus is at the party. How do you feel about that ?
Read Mark 2:15-17
When was the last time you were at a party and deeply uncomfortable ?
Jesus didn’t say everything was OK at the party (Hence the doctor line) but he also wasn’t stopping people from living and acting as a nay-sayer.
I think he was taking a ’long view’ , looking past the sin to the person and not rushing to condemn. What is this like for us ?
There’s some evidence that while the churches favourite model of discipleship looks like
- Believe 2) Behave 3 )Belong
increasingly we see people following a different order
- Belong 2) Believe 3) Behave.
What kinds of challenges might this raise for us ?
One of the challenges is that we often forget how ‘shaped’ our own reading of scripture is.
“It is not simply exegesis that determines how we read the Bible; rather, it is our vested interests, our hopes, and our fears that largely determine our reading.”
It’s helpful for us to be aware of our fears and hopes, and sometime be willing to look past them to other people. Brueggemann goes on to say be careful of any reading of scripture that excludes the others.
The early church (the church from which Mark was written) valued hospitality
Read: Acts 2:46-46, Romans 12:13, 1 Peter 4:9
Justin Duckworth said that all the New Zealand church would need to do to be renewed was for everyone in it to be inviting ‘others’ to a jesus meal once a week! What do you think of this idea ?
Could we do this ? How could we do this ?