Sunday, March 18, 2007

Party People

Today in my class at church we looked at Luke 5 when Jesus challenges Levi the Tax Collector to follow him. Levi does just that, then throws a big party for Jesus to meet his friends, who Luke describes as "tax collectors and others." I'm no tax collector (they were even more hated than the IRS today, because they collaborated with the Roman government and usually took a cut off the top for themselves) but I am an other. In fact, our whole class is really a group of "others" at our church.

Here's a question: if you were a 1st century tax collector that showed up at your friend Levi's party, and you were unfamiliar with this guy Jesus that was there but knew Levi wanted to introduce you to a special "holy man", would you have been able to pick him out of the crowd as somehow different? If Jesus was standing with 9 tax collectors over in a corner having a conversation, would you be able to look and say "that must be Jesus"?

There are several ways followers of Jesus today would answer that question. There are those who would say "absolutely!" as if Jesus had some sort of other-worldly glow about him or a halo above his head like some of the artwork through the centuries. These are the folks that somehow think that Jesus' poop didn't stink, that he just wasn't that human. He probably floated just above the floor as he went from person to person with some holy message (he certainly would have not laughed or told a great joke!).

There are those who would deny that Jesus was even really at the party. Like the Pharisees who stood outside and asked Jesus' disciples why he was in the party with the Others, these Angry Christians deny that Jesus was "party people." He did nothing frivolous, nothing that wasn't spiritual (you have to pronounce that last word out loud with a Transylvanian accent for full effect). He, like these Angry Christians today, would have stayed outside the party and lobbed judgment-grenades over the wall and into the middle of the Others.

But there are those that would not have been exactly sure which one was Jesus, because they were all "real" people. There wasn't a "holier-than-thou" in the bunch, and surely Jesus would be a holier-than-thou type. After all, he was truly Holier-than-any-thou-that-there-was! But at some point, the guy you had seen laughing, the one with the funny story about his little brother, would make an authentically profound statement that would make you think, and you would be surprised at the thought of "that one is Jesus?" in your mind.

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