By James Merritt
It is the most exclusive club in the world and there is only one qualification that will gain you entry.
Amazingly, it is not money. Carlos Slim Helù is the richest person in the world. His net worth is $70.6 billion dollars. Bill Gates is the richest person in the U.S., and his net worth is $60.4 billion, but neither man can buy his way into this club.
It is not fame. The two most famous people in the world, the most recognizable faces are Muhammad Ali and Tiger Woods. Neither one could get into this club.
It is not popularity. According to Twitter, the three most popular people on the planet are Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, and Katy Perry. None of them would be allowed into this club.
It is not influence. Surveys show that the three most influential people of the early 21st century were Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, and Mark Zuckerberg–the founder of Facebook. None of them would be allowed into this club.
The most exclusive club in the world only has five living members and there is only one qualification that will get you into this club–only one requirement. Guess what it is?
The title is–President of the United States.
The most exclusive club in the world is known as “the President’s Club.”
I actually read a book recently by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy titled The President’s Club. It recounted fascinating stories about how former and current presidents interact together.
While I was reading this book, I began to think of another club, that, to me, is far more fascinating, far more exciting, and far more important, and it is the most inclusive club in the world. That club is made up of followers of Jesus. The only qualification you must have to be a candidate to join this club is to be a missing person. A missing person is anyone who is far from God that can be invited to come near to God.
There is an “Amber Alert” on anyone who is far from God. Jesus even said the reason why He left heaven and came to earth was to find and rescue missing persons. He said in Luke 19:10, “the son of man has come to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10, ESV).
In Luke 5 we are told that Jesus has already found His first missing persons. They were four fishermen: Peter, Andrew, James and John. He invited them to come and to follow Him and they did. He also told them that He wanted them to quit fishing for fish and start fishing for people. He wanted them to start looking for missing persons. That raises a question, “what kind of missing persons are we to look for? What kind of fish are we to go after?” What the disciples were about to learn shocked their system to the core. Everybody is to be invited to follow Jesus and anybody can follow Jesus. Jesus has told His new friends what they are to do and now He is going to show them how to do it. The same way He did it is the same way we are to do it.
First, we are to ask everyone to follow Jesus.
Jesus walks by a tax collector named Levi and gives the same invitation to him He gave to the first four; “follow Me” (Luke 5:27). Jesus did something that no rabbi had ever done or would ever think about doing. Instead of someone asking Jesus if they could follow Him, Jesus instead invited people to follow Him. No application–just invitation.
Second, we are to accept anyone willing to follow Jesus.
Luke 5:27 tells us that Levi was a “tax collector.” It won’t surprise you that tax collectors were the most despised, hated, class of people in all of Israel. They were considered traitors. The favorite name for them was “blood-suckers.”
In short, Levi was a missing person that nobody missed. Tax collectors were so despised that they were barred from the synagogues. In other words, they were excommunicated. They couldn’t be witnesses in any court of law, because their word was considered useless. They were on the same level with robbers, murderers, pimps and prostitutes. They were never invited to the neighborhood cookouts and conveniently left off the high school reunion list.
While everyone else would curse him and spit at him and threaten him, Jesus said the very same thing to him that He had just said to Andrew, Peter, James and John, “follow Me.” How could such a thing happen? Because, Jesus is teaching that everyone is invited to follow Him and anyone can and if they do should be welcomed with open arms.
Finally, we are to associate with those who don’t follow Jesus.
Luke 5:29 tells us that Levi throws a party to celebrate his salvation and who does he invite? He invites all the other tax collectors! Why did he do that? These were his buddies. Do you know who missing persons hang out with? They hang out with other missing persons! He throws a “finding missing persons” party! When you accept the call to follow Jesus, Jesus does not call you to isolation; He calls you to association. You are not to avoid missing persons, but to go fishing for them, find them, and invite them to follow Jesus.
There is this big party going on with the most despised, low-life people in all of Israel and Jesus is right in the middle of it. Someone observed that people who were nothing like Jesus liked Jesus, and Jesus liked people who were nothing like Him. Let me tell you why it is so important to associate with missing persons and lovingly, gently and naturally introduce them to Jesus.
When people who are far from God, truly meet the Son of God, they want to draw near to God.
You lead best by example. Jesus set the example for us. Let’s do the same for others.
Published May 30, 2018