Believe then Belong or Belong then Believe?

I recently preached on Matthew, the tax collector, and observed that Jesus asked Matthew to belong to his inner circle while he was still an active tax collector - before Matthew believed in Him as the Messiah.


Jesus said belong with me, before Matthew believed in Jesus.


We usually put “believe” before “belong” don’t we?


We want people (especially family) to believe like we do, before we’ll fully accept (or forgive, or love) them and allow them to belong. Of course, we would never articulate that – but that is often the subtle but powerful message: Until you believe the things I (we) believe we will not accept you.


Can you relate?


Do you have someone in your family or sphere of influence that does not believe the things you do?


Why is it hard to extend a “belonging grace” and welcome them to our inner circle?


As uncomfortable as it is, that’s exactly how Jesus operated, and his interaction with Matthew is a prime example.

Matthew 9:9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

Note that when Jesus called Matthew, he was actively collecting his taxes, overcharging the people, chasing his idolatrous greed. In that state, Jesus asked him to “follow Me.”


It reminds me of Romans 5:8, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us….”


Who might we extend a “belonging grace” to today?


Enjoy Walking with the Savior Today, Pastor John


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