Monday, June 21

Tax Collectors and Star Stuff

Lenten Reflection:

Jesus said to his disciples:
"You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers and sisters only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."
-Matthew 5:43-48


The phrase "Do not the tax collectors do the same?" caught my attention today. Well, truthfully, I'm tired and my brain was caught by several things, least of which is the idea of rain falling on the "just and unjust." But anyway, back to the tax collectors. It seems weird to have a focus on tax collectors...and pagans. If I were to think of the top two offensive people today, it wouldn't be tax collectors and pagans, it might be, for me, fundamentalists and wall street bankers. Both drive me bananas. But should they?

Tax collectors, back in the day, were members of the family. They were Jews who worked with the Roman government. Often they were corrupt. They were despised by the religious Jew. Today, honestly, that person for me is the fundamentalist-literalist-inerrant type person. Not that I despise them, I don't, but they definitely frustrate me to no end. And they are members of my own family. I need to make room for these people in my heart too. Urgh.

So the question is, what if I don't want to make room for them? I think I will just stand on the corner and have a hissy fit and declare, "I don't wanna!" Why do I need to share my toys with those I believe have twisted the Grace of God? Because the rain falls equally on both of us. We are all connected. The rain of grace connects us. My heart is their heart and their heart is my heart. No matter how uncomfortable that makes us both feel. This thought leads to one of my most favoritest videos of all time...

We are all connected. We are all star stuff.


  • Katie

    I appreciate this; it is so important to make room, have hospitality, and have love for all.

    I think there is a really important distinction between making room for the person and making room for their actions that are hurtful or oppressive. Jesus welcomed all, but he usually included his “follow me” with “sin no more.” When he saved the adulterous woman from being stoned he didn’t say, “hey all is well, take care” he said “go and sin no more.”

    Now, of course, we can’t just be like “oh, well I’m Jesus in this situation and the inerrant-types are the adulterous woman” because of course in this situation ALL of us are the adulterous woman. But at the same time, I do think there is room to stand for what we believe while welcoming individuals as sacred creations of God. To me, it’s not so much a “love the sinner hate the sin” kind of thing, it’s more that I’m not going to let the presence of those folks in my community silence me from speaking the truth in love. Welcome doesn’t have to mean compromising who we are and what we stand for. And love doesn’t necessarily mean unity… sometimes we have to sacrifice unity to follow Jesus’ example and stand in solidarity with the oppressed.

    • You are absolutely right, Katie! There is a tension in our differences and our connection. We are always both. We are all always both. It is a bit about talking about the plank in my own eye and talking about the speck in your eye. In love and connection, we can do both. And we can live with a wide variety of Christologys, Biblologys, and all the other -ologys. If we hold love supreme, it isn’t white washing the differences, it is deeply connecting through the differences and loving each other just the same.

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