Hope Includes the Excluded
Topic: Sunday Message Verse: Mark 2:13–2:17, 1 Corinthians 1:26–1:31
Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt like you didn’t belong or you couldn’t fit in?
We have all experienced the sting of rejection, but depending on how often and how hurtful those exclusions have been, the impact can be personally devastating and can lead us to great despair.
Today's passage is the story of the hope of Jesus breaking through into the life of someone who felt like he didn’t fit anywhere.
Mark 2:13-17 NIV
13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. 15 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. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Hope Includes the Excluded
Levi wasn't a Roman racially. Yet as a tax collector, he also wasn't Jew socially. He didn't fit in anywhere but Jesus called Him anyways. Jesus came not to call the so called "righteous," but desperate sinners who know they need a Savior. Jesus redrew the lines of "who's in" and "who's out."
Even today, Jesus still offers hope for the excluded. He's calling searching souls like us who feel like we don't quite fit in anywhere to follow Him everywhere.
Everyone defines themselves by some kind of inclusion or exclusion that either happened to them in their past or something they're chasing after in their future.
So some of us still haven't recovered from some past rejection because we weren't smart enough, pretty enough, or talented enough. That's led us to despair and giving up on life. Or it's led us to defiance, driven by revenge and trying to prove we're somebody.
Others of us try to define our lives by the wrong inclusion--being part of the in crowd, the exclusive crowd, or the moral crowd, and when we get there, we look down on everyone else.
Jesus changes all that. That's why we need to stop pretending we're healthy, when we're sick. Or to stop acting like we’re righteous, when we're not, and instead turn to Jesus just as we are and follow Him.
Then for those of us who do know Jesus as Savior, we need to return to that core identity, rather than letting our lives be shaped by some past rejection that still haunts us or some wrong inclusion that still tempts us. Remind yourself the truth of who you are in Jesus through Scripture, sharing, and song.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NLT
26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. 30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. 31 Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”
Find Your Boast in Jesus
Your boast is essentially your identity. It's your hope. It's everything you look to for meaning and purpose along with acceptance and inclusion.
So don’t look to things like wisdom and power or wealth and influence. Rather look to Jesus and let His hope define your life. In His gracious acceptance, He gives you a people to belong to and a purpose to live for.
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