The tax collectors?

By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently (Lk. 15: 1 The Messaage).
Now the tax collectorss and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus (NIV).

A little verse that we all know but Gayle showed this one to me yesterday and we saw it in a different light.

I think this lockdown is proving to be so inconvenient. We are going through a ‘reset’, as is always the case whenever one hears a ‘word’ we normally apply it to everyone else and every other situation, but as per every word it has to come back home. The reset has to be personal. To be reset is to be set again – back to some original purposes and get focused in there – that aspect is biting deep right now; and it can be a re-boot of the hard drive. OR BOTH. I am currently very agitated indeed so reading this verse did nothing to ‘unagitate’ me.

Those of doubtful reputation – thank God (in theory) for that includes me. But wait, the offence of the Gospel is not who the Gospel excludes but who it includes. The sinners, and for this we must not think evangelically for that is not the category that Luke was working with. ‘Sinners’ were the marginalised of society, those deemed not to be making a contribution (although defined religiously and outworked socially). OK I am still OK with that, but…

The tax collectors‘. Quick I must get the white paint (tippex) back out as I can’t be having that. Those who worked for the Imperial oppressors (and htat is not some hyped up assessment), so are wrongly aligned, and in the process line their own pockets through charging what they can.

That group really got under my skin. I mentioned in a previous post about (one of?) the riches people in the world who can squeeze everyone else out of business and has amassed another $5.5bn in wealth already this year, and done so through selling off shares just as the virus began to hit. In a reset this has really got under my skin (Gayle successfully pointed out that his name has come out of my mouth so many times over the past two days that I had to finally admit it had got right under my skin…). But surely rightly so? We are in a reset and there is no reboot there in sight. That really annoyed me. And what annoys me more, because I feel somewhat powerless, is that this happens when we are to be holding space for something new – so on our watch.

That last part leaves me very conflicted, and annoyed. But the verse. The marginalised and the ‘who?’… those who are aligned to the oppressing Imperial structures and if they continue in that vein their pockets will be further lined at many peoples’ expense.

But here in this verse they also are coming to listen to Jesus. Maybe my antagonism has silenced the voice of Jesus for these people. Ah well the reset seems to need to go deeper.

I have a little bit of work to do as a result of that verse. (Maybe a lot of work to do in the light of that little verse (!) as it also ties to some of the original purpose (re-set) of arriving in Spain relating to something God spoke so loudly to me. I remember to this day where I was, what direction I was facing and even what was in my pocket at that moment.) Seems we all have a say as to how much of a re-set will come through this current time. At times like this I would rather just complain, but hopefully there is too much at stake for me to fall back to that.

3 thoughts on “The tax collectors?

  1. So true Martin, a constant challenge. Many times people have accused me of being an inverted snob! In a sense I know they are right, what you highlighted here is the issue…it’s a challenge

  2. I have been waiting for a re-set to somehow address the inequalities and injustice we live with, but I am in no way unique in that. What faces me (us) is the practicalities. My brother owns a business with his wife in the UK caring for children. They care for key worker children now, but will lose a large amount of money. Parents are supposed to keep paying their contracts for child provision, but my brother and his wife have said anyone who has lost income/jobs does not need to. Unfortunately some who still have their full income have decided not to pay so they can save some money. On the other side, the bank has said they can have a government backed loan to see them through, but at 20% interest. The rich get richer again? My brother has decided not if he can help it and no more money from the bank. The parents may not have a business to return their children to, but if we are not simply going return to the status quo (I mean generally, as some have personally already past that option) then perhaps there will need to be many more refusals to resist those whose interest lies there. Who is the sinner in this story? Well, everyone I guess including the one typing it. We might all point the finger more directly at some, but what then is the loving and just answer and the means to listen to Jesus? Collaboration, unity needed- a meeting of heart and spirit.

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