“After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him (Lk. 5:27).”
I remember the day God called me to be a disciple of His. Beforehand, I was an unchurched, rebellious, and wicked sinner. While I was kind to people, delved into forms of spirituality, and practiced the golden rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, I was self-centered and hedonistic to the core.
In college, I was known for being a jock on the swim team and a drinker. I didn’t have the kind of reputation that would imitate Christ-likeness. However, a few Christians never gave up and invited me to a couple of worship services on campus. Honestly, it made an immediate impact. I was convicted in my spirit and yearned for a connection with Jesus.
A few weeks later, I decided to leave the party house where I lived and move in with the leader of a campus ministry and a strong brother in the Lord from Nigeria. They prayed every night. It was a radical change. Just a month ago I was carrying kegs into our living room and now I was on my knees praying for the Lord’s healing in my life.
I will be forever grateful for these two brothers in Christ. They took a risk of inviting me into their lives as an unbeliever, and their love and devotion to the Lord just melted my heart. I was completely convinced in the sovereign God of the universe. I knew at that very moment God was calling me to be His disciple. In that quiet calm voice I heard, “Follow me.”
Similarly, Levi the tax collector heard the words of Jesus say, “Follow me.” Here he was, a tax collector. Not the greatest reputation either. They were considered traitors by the Jews because they worked for the Roman government. Moreover, many tax collectors were known for being dishonest by taking more taxes than what was truly imposed. Nevertheless, Jesus, who is the King of the Jews, called Levi out of darkness and into His marvelous light.
Testimonies of God changing lives is really the essence of the Christian worldview. Throughout Scripture, you hear of Noah, a drunkard, being used by God. An entire city, Nineveh, repents and trusts in the Lord when Jonah gives them a stern message about future judgment. And of course, Saul of Tarsus, a persecutor of God’s people, gets radically converted on the road to Damascus. His name later changes to the Apostle Paul, who wrote more books than any other prophet.
Who would not be fascinated by the Judeo-Christian worldview? It’s not an empty religion. Instead, lives are radically changed for the better. Drunkards become sober. Angry and violent criminals become peacemakers. When liars are confronted with the holiness of God, they spend the rest of their lives devoted to honesty and integrity. This is a beautiful religion and a message the world needs to hear today.
Unfortunately, the world loves sin and unrighteousness. They do not want the light to shine in the darkness. Just like a beetle that hides under a rock, when the rock is lifted and light penetrates them, they run out of fear of being caught. However, if they only knew, just like I was blind to see before, that God loves them. Therefore, they do not need to be afraid of the light because that light will save their lives.
I used to think that living for my own pleasures and self-fulfillment was better than obeying the God from the Bible. In fact, many unbelievers look at the Christian life as harsh, boring, and a lifestyle that restricts them from freedom of expression. However, Satan has blinded them from the truth. It is hedonism and unbelief that enslaves humanity whereas Jesus, our Creator, encourages and liberates us.
My Christian brother from Nigeria enjoyed telling me this fable about an eagle that thought he was a chicken. Have you heard of this fable before? When the eagle was very little, he fell from his nest to a farm field. A chicken farmer found the helpless eagle and brought him to the farm. He essentially adopted the eagle and raised him in a chicken coop among many chickens.
The chickens made fun of the eagle because he looked different. His wings were wider and longer, his talons were not like their claws, and the eagle’s beak was much sharper than the chicken. The eagle did his best to follow along, but knew there was something greater inside. He was stronger, faster, and wiser than those around him. He also was able to fly much higher and faster than those around him.
A few years went by and the mother eventually found the eagle. The moment he saw the mother, he instinctually knew: “This is who I am.” I am a king of the sky. Then, the eagle politely said goodbye to the chickens, widened his wings, and flew way up in the sky never to return again. He finally realized he was meant to be the king of the sky.
This story teaches us that when humanity rebelled from God in Eden, they fell from their proper abode. They started to live “ordinary” lives. They began to conform to this world, trying to be the same as everyone else. However, when God calls us back home, we will each know it. As children of the living God, He will call us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
God can rescue you from living amongst the chickens. You were born to be an eagle. In fact, your nature is to be an eagle, flying high with your heavenly Father. When Jesus asks you to follow him, consider it the ultimate privilege. Many people are blinded by this truth.
When God revealed to me his holiness and grace, I was so thankful. I didn’t deserve to be called to extraordinary measures, but that’s why it’s called mercy and undeserved favor. For whom God foreknew he predestined to become conformed into the image of His Son. It is my hope and prayer that you listen to God’s voice and began to flap your wings like the true eagle you are. Blessings!
Written by Chad A. Damitz