I love this painting.  See Jesus pointing to Levi (Matthew), and see Levi incredulously pointing to himself as if to say, "who me?"
I love this painting. See Jesus pointing to Levi (Matthew), and see Levi incredulously pointing to himself as if to say, “who me?”

In Luke 5:1-11 and 27-32, Jesus invites four men to follow Him and become His disciples.  These four men (Simon Peter, James, John, and Levi) had decisions to make.  On one hand, these men were leaving the known for the unknown.  Peter, James, and John were known as fishermen.  It was part of their identity.  They drew their livelihood from catching fish and selling them in the market.  Levi was a tax collector.  It was the single most defining thing about him.  He had grown wealthy from this dubious vocation.  For these four men to follow Christ, they were going to leave behind a chunk of their identity and the former source of their security.  Yet they left those things to follow Him.

As I read these verses today I was reminded of an old Michael Card song called, “The Things We Leave Behind.”  I love the song because in simple poetry, Card draws our attention NOT to the things they left, but to what they gained as they followed Christ.  This is an important message for us as well.  As we follow Christ, we change the source of our security (from us to Him).  As we follow Christ, things that otherwise would define us are left behind so that He is who defines us.  While most of us will not have a vocation change as we follow Christ, all of us have a Master change. . . instead of following our own way, we follow His.  This forces us to leave some things behind, while we gain something far greater.

Today, as we are just a few days from Christmas, I want you to read the lyrics to Card’s song below and reflect upon the freedom we find in following Christ as Levi, Simon, James and John did.  In Christ we get far greater than we give up as we follow Him.

There sits Simon,
so foolishly wise
proudly he’s tending his nets
Then Jesus calls,
and the boats drift away
all that he owns he forgets

More than the nets
he abandoned that day,
he found that his pride was soon drifting away
It’s hard to imagine the freedom we find
from the things we leave behind

Matthew was mindful
of taking the tax,
pressing the people to pay
Hearing the call,
he responded in faith
followed the Light and the Way

Leaving the people
so puzzled he found,
the greed in his heart
was no longer around and
it’s hard to imagine
the freedom we find
from the things
we leave behind

Every heart needs to be set free,
from posessions
that hold it so tight
‘Cause freedom’s not found in the things that we own,
It’s the power
to do what is right
Jesus, our only posession,
giving becomes our delight
We can’t imagine the freedom we find
from the things we leave behind

We show a love for the world in our lives
by worshipping goods we posess
Jesus has laid all our treasures aside
“love God above all the rest”

‘Cause when we say ‘no’
to the things of the world
we open our hearts
to the love of the Lord and
its hard to imagine
the freedom we find
from the things we leave behind

Oh, and it’s hard to imagine
the freedom we find
from the things
we leave behind

 

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