As Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. Matthew 9:10
When in chemical dependency treatment, I felt more than a little hopeless. My family was a disaster and I was pretty sure my career was over. I’d killed everything good in life and though I at least needed to try and put things back together, the thought of facing my peers was daunting. I was ashamed and embarrassed and the last thing I wanted to do was stand before a bunch of respectable doctors, begging for a job.
At my darkest, one physician – who went on to become my mentor and friend – threw me a much-needed lifeline. His message was simple, “It’s not over. Let’s talk.” I wasn’t so sure that it wasn’t over, but I met with him. I was fearful. What if he didn’t know the whole story? What if when he found out, he changed his mind? I could just imagine, I’m sorry Scott. It’s not going to work. I didn’t realize what a mess you were.
Still, he had given me hope, so I told him the whole story, just to make sure his grace was real. When I was done, nothing had changed in his mind, “We’re going to see what we can do to get you back to work. I believe in a God of second chances and I believe God wants me to show you the same love and mercy he’s shown me.”
He didn’t minimize my destructive behavior – I was a disaster – but he didn’t condemn me either. I wouldn’t have blamed anyone for passing on me. I was hot mess and a high risk. As God had shown him grace though, he did the same for me. My mentor is now retiring. I didn’t take time to stop and think much about it, but yesterday was my last shift working with the man who gave me hope when I was at my lowest.
In today’s story, Jesus too, reached out to and spent time with the hurting and lost. He didn’t seek out the religious elite, but rather mingled with those who knew how badly they needed him. He didn’t avoid the painful truth of sin and destructive behavior, but instead he offered love, hope, and forgiveness to those who wanted it.
I’ll never be able to repay my mentor for what he did for me. What I can do though, is emulate Christ in him, seeking out the lost and hurting around me and sharing the love God has shown me. I’m no Jesus, but as I have been given so much grace, I must now do the same for others.
Thanks Ray! I’ll never be able to repay your kindness, but I’ll try and pass it on.