LICC – word for the week – called away
Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. Luke 5:27,28
People do get up and leave everything. They disappear leaving everyone behind and join the missing persons’ list. They walk away from responsibility, from having to be reliable and prudent, from careful risk assessment, from remembering to lock up the petty cash each evening. Many of us can probably understand why, feel the same way about weights and responsibilities, but most of us stick in there. It takes some kind of perverse courage to run away.
But Levi was called away. He was at work with the little piles of denarii in front of him. Then Jesus said, ‘Follow me’. He went when Jesus called him. But he didn’t turn his back on his workplace. He had a lot of friends among the tax collectors. I expect they tended to stick together. What did they think of his radical, rash, risky act? Levi gave them the chance to find out what had happened to him and why. He didn’t just wash his hands of them when he left. He gave a banquet so that they could meet Jesus.
Levi did not think he should leave the riff-raff behind now he was following Jesus, unlike the local religious leaders who wanted to know why Jesus was eating and drinking with ‘tainted’ people. Jesus knew where he was needed – knew that those who were battling with life and work would hear what he had to say. Respectable, comfortable people were less likely to hear him because they felt no need.
He may call us to walk away, but he is much more likely to call us to a new obedience just where we are and a new commitment to those we already know and work with, who may need us – and him.