It’s always amazed me that, of His 12 disciples, Jesus called both a tax collector (Matthew) and a zealot (Simon). The tax collectors were sellouts to the occupying Roman Empire. Zealots were a political party dedicated to fighting against Rome. Yet these men found a greater reality in Jesus that transcended their social and ideological alliances.
I love that Saint James reflects that diversity. Our members span the political parties: Republican, Democrat, third-party, and independent. We’re white-collar, blue-collar, #bluelivesmatter, and #blacklivesmatter. We unite not around a fallible human platform, but the kingdom of God, the presence of God Himself living among, in, and through us.
But what was it like when Jesus called Matthew to follow Him? How did the other disciples react? We don’t know. I suspect that they weren’t thrilled with His choice. Did they really want to be associated with a traitor? But we do know how Matthew reacted. He threw a party to celebrate, and he invited his friends, both new (Jesus and His disciples) and old (tax collectors and other public sinners). (Matthew 9:9-13) They talked differently, had different values and ideas how to attain them, and had different social circles with different expectations.
And yet, they united by being loved by Christ.
As more people come to know Christ’s love through those who belong to Saint James, you’ll encounter those who live differently than you’d expect, who look and talk in a way that might make you uncomfortable, whose values make no sense to you, and whose ideas just seem wrong. Some may be young in their faith and haven’t learned what you have. Some may be more mature in the faith than you. Some come from very different backgrounds and experiences, which have shaped how they see the world and how they live in it. Many don’t understand the language and values of Christian subculture, some of which is Biblical, and some of which is not. But God has united us in His love, and His love extends to those who don’t yet know they are loved. He gives us the opportunity to show the love that He has given to us that all nations and cultures be made disciples of Jesus Christ.
May God fill you with His love as we answer the call to live in His love together.