Being raised in the Baptist church, I was amazed at how pulpit committees endeavored to call a pastor. Most churches that are autonomous by polity rely heavily on the homiletically and charismatic gifts of the preacher to draw crowds than as other denominations who rely more on proven pastoral experience and politics. I do believe that both perspectives could use some tweaking by looking at a burned-out bureaucrat who was ripe for a career change, but he's got no access to Hotjobs.com or Monster.com, and no clear way to move up and out. Then suddenly, he encounters Jesus, who delivers an unexpected invitation: "Follow me." Jesus invites him to join the job network of Messiah.com.
Matthew wasn't looking for a new job and found one; often, when we look for a job, we can't find one.
If only Matthew could have jumped online with Monster.com. As found in Matthew chapter 2, the poor guy is slumped at his booth on the border, bored out of his mind in a dead-end job. He's a petty functionary for the occupying power in his own country, making him something of a pariah among his people. On top of this, everyone assumes that he's a cheat, since many tax collectors are known to add a small service charge to the taxpayers who line up to pay to Caesar what is Caesar's and to the tax man what is the tax man's
To the jaw-dropping shock of the jaded taxpayers jostling in line, Matthew leaps out of his cubicle and follows Jesus. He leaves his denarii on his desk and bolts! Apparently Monster.com will have to wait -- there's no bigger career-changer than MESSIAH.com!
Career-conscious Christians, listen up! Is Jesus calling us to re-evaluate how we are spending our time, our lives and our careers? Is he challenging us to break down and bust up the barrier between office and vocation, between what we do for a living and what we do to serve God? Is he crying for us to use our time, talents and treasures for more than business building and wealth creation? While we certainly can serve God wherever we are, we may be at a Matthew Moment in our lives.
A what? A "Matthew Moment." A time in which God is calling us to something greater. Greater than supplying services and producing products. Greater than punching clocks and cashing checks. Greater than working hard now so that we can play hard later. In this Matthew Moment, God is challenging us to be more Christlike.
As Christo-centric believers, we look for God to be at the helm, keeping us on a course that is clearly his way. We follow Christ because we know that he trusted God completely, all the way through the cross and the empty tomb. As we follow him on the path of discipleship, through bread breaking with sinners and roller-coaster rides on stormy seas, we'll grasp that God's career path for us is far more thrilling and satisfying than anything we could map on our own. With the Lord charting the course, we'll be able to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, and speak God's Word.
But hold on a second! Does this mean that everyone has to become a full-time religious leader, a pastor or paycheck-drawing church pro? Not at all. While a good number of people in their 30s and 40s are now visiting Messiah.com and hearing a call to ministry, not everyone can -- or should -- follow Jesus as a preacher or teacher or religious professional.
It's much better if Jesus has a disciple in medicine or marketing or mortgage servicing. Much more constructive for the kingdom if there is a Jesus person in politics or police work or pest control. Much more glorious for the Gospel if there is a Christlike person working behind a cash register or on a construction site or in a day-care center. Jesus doesn't say to Matthew, "Become a minister!" No, he says, "Follow me." That following can happen in many places and in a multitude of ways, and however it is done it can spread God's will and spur other people to find Christ in their lives.
A visit to Messiah.com can lead to new challenges, and a visit to Messiah.com can create an even tougher path to follow. But for those who are willing to walk behind Christ and be a follower, amazing things can happen. This could be your Matthew Moment -- that time in which God is calling you to something greater. Are you ready for a career change, a job switch, a new role as a Christ like Mini-Me? There are no tough interview questions to be answered, only an affirmative response to the invitation, "Follow me."
Follow Reverend William E. Flippin, Jr. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pastorbilljr