The Beauty of Gatekeeping
While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.
- Mark 2:15
Other than Levi, it’s doubtful that many of Jesus’ many disciples had ever eaten dinner with tax collectors. Faithful Jews just didn’t tend to do that. The frustration they felt about the practice of tax collecting bled through into their practices of hospitality and table-fellowship. And they would have kept their distance from the taxmen.
This is not a situation that’s unique to ancient Judea. Our own society experiences deep divisions. People box around issues and disagreements and then return to their own corners. All too often we live in all too small echo chambers that ring all too loudly in our ears and our hearts.
Following Jesus will – at times – cause you to spend time with and listen to and engage people with whom you have deep disagreements. You may find their politics abhorrent. Their hygiene or pretension may disgust you. Their spelling may be atroshus. They may try too hard to be funny.
But being with Jesus means being with them.
If you want to follow Jesus and he goes and eats with tax collectors and sinners, that’s where you’ll go too. And, when you get there, you may discover that some of those people with whom you’re now connecting weren’t all that interested in connecting with you (and wouldn’t have willingly done so apart from Jesus).
Apart from Jesus, none of these disciples would have received an invite to Levi’s party … and none of these disciples would have had access to Levi’s social network. Levi became a key gatekeeper, giving his friends and coworkers access to Jesus and the new community he was creating.
Who in your life has served as a gatekeeper for you, giving you access to a new community? What communities do you have access to? How might you play a role in introducing those communities to Jesus and his people?