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Leaving All and Following Him

October 16th, 2018

And Levi got up, left everything, and followed Him. (Luke 5:28)

Can a man truly leave all? Even if we walked out of our houses with just the shirts on our backs and started again, we would take with us much of what we owned and had personally become in our hearts. We will take our bitternesses, our pains, our habits, our enjoyments, and our attitudes and prejudices in our minds.

Following Christ creates more than a new direction in life – it creates a new reality for the disciple. The old is passed away – the old with its pains and sorrows, with its sins and recriminations, with its pride and accomplishments as well, is gone. The new in Christ is what we focus upon, what we receive, and what we become. It is a revelation of the power of Christ that He can make people new.

The key to it all is that Levi followed Christ. He put his feet into the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth and stayed close to Him. In that journey were constant turnings that surprised him, what often appeared as side trips down alleyways that turned into major highways for the Lord. And the reverse as well, where what appeared so important in earthly thought vanished as insignificant to the disciple.

Levi was another name for the disciple called Matthew, and in his own gospel he tells his story but omits the part about leaving all (Matt. 9:9). He emphasized the immediacy of his decision, that he followed immediately, but not the size of it, that he had left all. Tax collecting in that day could be a lucrative profession, but it was also one where the Jewish tax-collector himself had burned bridges with his own kinsmen. The tax-collectors were viewed as turn-coats against their own people, so they had to hang together and form their own communities because they were rejected by their own kind, but still not accepted truly by the Romans.

So Levi left not only his profession, but his money and his community to follow Christ. Yet as he tells his story he never mentions the size of his decision. He followed Christ and that was the great difference in his life. He followed not a principle, or a rule, or a discipline, or even a lifestyle. He followed a Person and that Person revealed Himself to him.

Have you done this? Have you left your old life? Have you followed Christ exclusively and devotedly? Have you said to Him, and to your own heart: I stake all that I am or become on Jesus Christ. Show Yourself to me. The words of Paul echo this same thought:

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him. (Phil 3:7-9) 

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