Like Levi the tax collector (also known as Matthew) I wasn't even looking for God. Levi and I were busy making money for our respective employers and for ourselves. Life was good. Levi was almost certainly taking a cut of the taxes destined for Rome so he was doing quite nicely, thank you very much. For me, a promising career in the heady financial stratosphere of the aerospace industry lay ahead. I had a lovely wife and a three year old daughter. Then it happened quite unexpectedly: God broke into my world.
Now everyone needs to have a haircut from time to time, but my regular visits to the hairdresser had become very uncomfortable. Trapped by the gown, I was constantly being challenged by an evangelistic snipper called Constantine. He told me that I wasn't a Christian just because I had been baptised 'Church of England' as a baby and insisted that I needed to give my heart to Jesus and be 'born again'. I resisted the idea, but God continued to pursue me by bringing other committed Christians into my life. My wife Erika had become a Christian a year before but had been sensitive to my searching and wasn't pushy about her new found faith.
Another Divine break-in occurred some nine months later, this time into the normally safe haven of my workplace. I had started to climb the ladder of success in an aircraft manufacturing facility in Manchester, England. I was the PA to the financial director and beginning to earn a pretty good salary. Scattered around the enormous buildings there were dozens of notice boards with information about all kinds of events, announcements and rather boring company policies. However one of the smaller posters seemed to jump out at me each time I passed by. It simply said that the Workers Christian Fellowship met each Thursday lunchtime at one o'clock in Training Room 1 and that all were welcome.
Over the previous few months I had become curious about the Christian faith but thought that Christians confined themselves to church buildings, so this poster really intrigued me. I started to attend regularly and was impressed with the authenticity and commitment of the group of ordinary men and women that I met.
One particular Thursday the group had arranged for a local evangelist to come and speak for the usual twenty minutes, and after the meeting I found myself walking alongside him between the various aircraft structure assembly lines: he casually asked me if I knew where I would be going when I died. Would it be Heaven with Jesus or, alarmingly for me, an eternal separation in Hell? I gave a stuttering and unconvincing answer.
As we parted he gave me a little booklet called Coming Home, which I read immediately on returning to my office. It was a simple, cartoon-style presentation of God's love for me and His plan for salvation beginning with Creation and ending with the Cross. For the first time in my life it began to make sense and I knew it was true. I was compelled to say a prayer of repentance and commitment to Christ right there and then in the privacy of my office. This turned out to be the best and most important decision of my life.
Like Levi, I had not been looking for God, but He had picked His moment to break in and steal my heart. I now realise that the Lord had chosen and pursued me. As we see in this passage, Levi immediately made Jesus welcome in his home and introduced Him to his less-than-perfect friends. Isn't that what we are supposed to do? Why not pray right now for your friends and family members who are not yet Christians. Ask God to pursue them with His relentless love and break into their life. Pray also for the boldness to be His hands and feet when the opportunities arise to share the good news of the gospel with them. You may be reading this and are not sure whether you are a Christian, but something is stirring in your heart. God is breaking in and there is no point in resisting. There is nowhere to hide. Do what I did and pray to Him right now in your own words.
Now tell someone you know, who is also a follower of Jesus Christ, and they can help you with the next steps.
This is a daily devotional written by Rob Carter, and is taken from his book 'Closer'. The book is available from Amazon and is also available as a Kindle Version. Alternatively, you can contact Rob directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for a paperback copy of the book.