The only thing that qualifies us to be followers of Jesus is that we are sinners who need grace. Sinners are the only kind of people Jesus calls, as the Apostle Levi (Matthew) discovered.1
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Levi looked around the campfire circle at Jesus and the other eleven disciples. Strange rabbinical school, he thought. Not exactly the cream of the scholarly crop. Led by a rabbi with no formal theological training, his disciples tended to be a bit heavy on fishermen.
But he saw himself as the oddest of the oddballs.
Levi had been a tax collector. That meant he had essentially worked for Rome. And that meant he had been considered a traitor by most of his neighbors. “Tax collectors and sinners” were synonyms.
Whatever Roman official had crafted the empire’s internal revenue system had been a genius. It was designed to encourage collection corruption. So long as Rome…