BackDoor Bible Series
Son of a Tax Collector
To help us understand how to handle our relationships with Non-Christians and learn what it means to live in the world but not be of the world.
Matt 9:9-13; Luke 14:2; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; John 17:14-17, Col. 3:1-17
Matthew the Tax Collector has come to follow Christ and recently so has his teenage son. The son has been part of a gang and is struggling with leaving it at the urging of his father. During a dinner party at Matthew the tax collectors home where Jesus is teaching, Matthews son (nameless), becomes angry since his father seems to be able to keep associating with his non Christian friends while he is being encouraged to leave his friends.
Host: Tonight we are going learn what it means to live in the world but not be of the world. We are also going to meet Matthew, the Tax collector who dealt personally with the difficulties of this issue. Scripture teaches us that as Christians (believers in Christ), we should not have strong relationships with unbelievers.
Read 2 Cor 6:14-17.
Now a lot of people struggle with this because scripture also teaches us that we are to love our neighbors and reach them for Christ. Once long ago, Jesus was going to a party with a group of unbelievers and some of the church leaders called Pharisees came and challenged Him about it. Well let's see if we can get a first hand glimpse of what happened.
Turn with me to Luke 14:2 (time machine starts)
* * *
On Guest Entry: (Matthew and Son enter having a father-son discussion)
Son: I just don't get this! This is so confusing, my head is getting so messed up!
Matthew: I know son, it does seem to be a dilemma. (On seeing the audience) Whoa! Where are we? Did we take a wrong turn back in the kitchen? This isn't our dinner party.
Son: (looking bewildered and pointing to audience) . . . and those aren't our guests.
Host: Welcome to Wednesday Night Live!
Son: (startled and moving toward Host, takes out a knife) Hey, back off man! You Pharisee types just gotta do it the hard way. Now, back off or I'll cut ya.
Matthew: (restraining son) Son, No, No! Are you still carrying that knife? Put it down. That's not the way Jesus wants us to treat people, not even the Pharisees. Jesus told us to be peace loving and to turn the other cheek instead of getting into someone's face.
Son: (shrugs and puts knife away) Well, OK Dad, (looks back at Host) but if he dis's us, I'm still gonna cut him 'cause I don't like them Pharisee's. (Son walks to other side of stage)
Matthew: Son, I don't think he's a Pharisee. (Matthew turns to Host) Sir, let me apologize for my son's behavior. He's under a lot of stress these days. Can you tell us where we are?
Host: Yes, this is the Wednesday Night Live show and it is the year is 2000 AD. We've brought you here through a time machine to talk with you. We are very interested in how you handle having non-Christian friends and wonder if you would answer a few questions for us? Are you Matthew the Tax collector?
Matthew: Yes, I am he.
Host: (Host has Matthew sit down - Son remains on other side of stage obviously deep in thought.)
Host: So, what's bothering your son.
Matthew: Well my son and I we have just recently started to follow the teaching of a man named Jesus. We believe he is the Son of God and his ways are really quite different from our ways. My son is especially having trouble understanding what Jesus wants him to do about his friends and family members who donít follow Jesus. We have been having a lot of conflicts with them lately.
Host: I see. Why did he think I was a Pharisee?
Matthew: Well, that all started when I decided to have all my friends and family over for a dinner party and invited Jesus to come and talk to them. I figured that if they could hear Him speak and learn about His ways then maybe they would understand us better and we wouldn't be having so many arguments. Just before the party started, Jesus arrived, and a group of our church leaders, called Pharisees, showed up uninvited. They began to say things like "Hey Matthew, why does your teacher eat with sinners and tax collectors?" This really insulted us and made my son very angry. I had to take him into the house or he might have stabbed them. The next thing I know we're here.
Host: Why does your son carry a knife. (Son's ears pickup and he is clearly listening)
Matthew: Yes, well over the last year he's been hanging out with this gang of kids his own age and they all carry knives. It's not been a good thing and now that we follow Jesus, one of his struggles is what to do about that. I've been telling him that he needs to stop hanging out with those friends. Jesus told us not to be yoked together to with unbelievers. He said we should come out from them and be separate.
Son: (comes back over) Yeah and I just don't get it. Why do I have to give up hanging out with my friends when you don't? You keep saying I'm supposed to leave my sinful friends, but what about you? Are you going to leave mom? She's not become a follower of Jesus.
Matthew: (looking pained) Well, no. I asked Jesus about that and He said that we who have become Christian's should not leave our spouses. We should stay because they are now considered special and will hear the gospel from us. Then they may become followers of Jesus themselves. He also said it was good for our children who are also special to God for us to stay married.
Son: Ok, but what about your friends? You get to hold a big party for all your friends. I mean even Jesus is hanging out with you. I think you're starting to sound just like the Pharisees, saying one thing and doing another.
Matthew: I know it looks like that to you, but this party is different.
Son: Different? How is it different? It looks like a double standard to me.
Matthew: No, it's not and let me explain.
Son: Ok explain. Why isn't that the same as with me and my friends.
Matthew: Because of this, (Matthew extends his hand) give me your knife.
Son: (son hands Dad the knife)
Matthew: Jesus told us things. He has told us to shun evil and those who do it and yet just a few minutes ago right in front of our house he told the Pharisees that it is the sick who need a doctor and He had come to call sinners, not the righteous.
Son: I know. That's why I'm so confused. How can we do both?
Matthew: The key, my son, is understanding who you are. When Jesus hangs out with sinners, He is the "doctor". He is back there right now (Matthew points to time machine) influencing my unbelieving friends. They were not influencing Him, for He is the Son of God. Your gang is still involved in violence as well as other bad activities. This knife and the way you are quick to respond with it is the way of that gang. When you are with them, who is influencing whom?
Mathew: Are you influencing them to become like Christ or are they continuing to influence you in the way of the world? Are you ministering to them, or are you running with them?
Son: (thinks for a minute) Well, I guess I'm still running with them.
Matthew: So come out and be separate from them. You are not yet strong enough in Christ to become a minister to them for they still influence you. Someday as you grow in Christ that might change and you may be able to go back and help them come to the truth, but for now it's time to stop hanging out with them.
Son: I guess I see the difference now. Thanks Dad, that helped a lot.
Matthew : (leaves character addresses the audience)
As Christians Jesus has called us out of the world. We are no longer to operate according to its ways. We are to be separate from the world and yet we are also called to minister to it. Each of you needs to examine your relationships that you might have with unbelievers.
In family relationships, should there be unbelievers God wants you to stay with them and influence them towards Christ. This is especially true if you have unbelieving parents. Obeying them shows what a difference Christ has made in your life. It is a wonderful witness.
With respect to your non-believing friends, you need to look at who is influencing whom. Are you participating with them in activities that are dishonoring to God? If so, it's time to leave that relationship. You are clearly not being a doctor. You are only getting sicker with sin. But if your walk with Christ is strong and you find that you can easily stay away from their sinful activities, you may be called by God to minister to them and help them find their way to Christ by taking them to Christian activities and being their personal friend. But remember this should be limited to same sex relationships.
Remember the test, look at who is influencing who. Do not fool yourselves and think that you are capable to witness to a member of the opposite sex without being influence yourself. In such relationships, emotional attachments and physical attraction are more than sufficient to make you vulnerable to influence. You cannot remain the objective minister. In matters of the opposite sex, the greater command to not be joined to an unbeliever is the best route.
Mathew: Mr. Host, can we go back to our party now. I really am anxious to see what Jesus says to my friends. Maybe some of them will decide to follow Him tonight.
Host: OK, but first I have to erase your memory so you don't accidentally change history. We could all cease to exist or something worse if time does not unfold in the same way it did before you came here. Come over here, look at me and close your eyes.
(Host flashes camera after Matthew and his son's eyes are closed and then sends them back into the time machine.)
Host: Just before Jesus died he made a very special request of the Father.
Read John 17:14-17
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. John 17:14-17 (NIV)
The word sanctify means to set aside for God's purposes. Jesus did not remove us from this world, but He did want us to be protected from evil and He does want us to be set aside for Him and His purposes. You will live your life in this world but you need to leave the ways of world and those who influence you to remain in them. This is the truth of his word.
Read Col. 3:1-17
Close in Prayer.
* * *