BY REV. DR. PHILIP CRAIG
Greater Springfield Community Church
Scripture: Luke 5: 27-28
After years of counting out coins, writing out custom receipts and collecting Roman taxes from his countrymen, Matthew finally heard an offer that he could not refuse. In this scripture, Luke quotes Jesus—who is speaking to a man named Levi—as saying, “Follow me,” and the author records that “he left all, rose up, and followed Him.”
Levi, who is now referred to as Matthew, actually left everything. During that time, tax collectors were known to take much of the tax money collected and keep it for themselves. This was a very profitable job, but it left many others in turmoil. It’s not easy for many people to leave behind what they see as being profitable.
I can recall in my own life, my testimony is much like Matthew’s. When God called me, I was young and very profitable as a club owner, property owner and street hustler. However, it wasn’t as easy for me to just leave it all behind as it was for Matthew. At first, I was thinking about the money, the fame and the fun I would be leaving behind.
I was fighting my destiny because I was embarrassed to change and follow this calling that God was placing on my life. I thought people would laugh at me and treat me differently, but as time went on I couldn’t fight it any longer. I knew that I would need to leave my former life behind.
Truthfully, I believe that if I didn’t leave that life behind, I probably wouldn’t have a life now. I realize that God knew exactly what he was doing. He knew my future would be more secured in His hands than in the hands of the world. When I look back now, I see that many people with whom I grew up are no longer living or in jail for doing the same things that I used to do. For some, it takes more of a push before they realize that accepting God’s call on their life is better than with what they might be engaged at the present time.
Conversion is the key to life. Before Matthew’s conversion, his name had been Levi, but after he came to Christ, he received a new name—Matthew, which means “gift of the Lord.” When I was operating in my sinful nature, I also had a different name, a nickname that represented what I was doing at the time. But since my conversion, that name has been long retired and I only use the biblical name that I was given at birth—Philip. Philip was one of Christ’s apostles and, for me, even thousands of years later, I choose to follow the ways of the biblical Philip in being a modern day apostle to Christ.
Many people stay slaves to money, drugs, alcohol, sex and other dependencies and never receive the freedom of life through Christ Jesus because they fear the unknown. That’s why faith is so powerful. When you walk with faith, you don’t walk by physical sight. Those who step out with faith trust God, and when you place your trust in God, you will feel more comfortable in leaving behind old habits and negative relationships. Stepping out with faith allows you to see the invisible, so that you can do the impossible. The question I challenge you today with is: What old life are you willing to leave behind in order to follow the son of God and fulfill your God-given purpose?
177-06 129th Ave, Jamaica NY 11434
Email Pastor Craig at Phil.firstname.lastname@example.org