Heard at Café: 9/12/2017

Amidst all the chaos caused by Irma (Irmagerd!), we were still able to put on Cafe last week thanks to some hard-working interns and staff. We began the evening by talking about disruptions, and how they can sometimes challenge us to re-evaluate how we go about our day. The hurricane/tropical storm was an easy example to reference since it caused power outages and cancelled classes, but we also talked more deeply about when we are challenged with new ideas or are reminded of some things that Jesus once said. One such thing was referenced in the Scripture we read and discussed together:
Matthew 9:9-13
9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus intentionally picked a tax collector to become one of his disciples, which would not have made sense to the people/leaders of that time for many reasons. Tax collectors were seen as traitors and cheats because of their allegiance to Rome and the way they conducted their work, so they were generally not liked or accepted by their communities. The Pharisees (religious leaders) saw this and were very skeptical of Jesus' motivation in choosing someone that seemed so flawed, but Jesus responds to them by questioning their motivations. He disrupts their way of doing things and their way of thinking by challenging them to re-evaluate what they know. He quotes "I desire mercy, not sacrifice" from the Old Testament to remind the Pharisees that God doesn't necessarily want us to just atone for what we've done wrong - - he wants us instead to realize that we are all flawed humans in need of forgiveness and grace.
When we start looking at Christianity as a list of rules to be followed, we begin missing the mark. Adrienne, CCF's newest staff member, had previously mentioned that she and her husband are trying to raise their children to be passionate followers of Jesus, not just well-behaved child robots. It's a funny sentiment on the surface, but ideally this is what we/CCF want for you all as well. We want you to know that you don't have to be perfect and get everything right all the time - it's an unattainable goal that we'll all fall short of achieving. Instead, our hope and desire is for you all to become passionate followers of Jesus - loving others as he did, being welcoming to all, and realizing that we're all in need of grace and compassion.

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