When I imagine the Apostles hanging out with Jesus, I picture them laughing raucously, slapping each other on the back, or maybe some are teasing the youngest disciples while others hang back to have deeper conversations and pray with those they encounter. But there’s one little descriptor in the list of the Apostles that makes me think there may be more to it than that.
Among these sets of brothers and small town fisherman, we read, “Matthew the tax collector.” (Matthew 10:1-4) You knew he was an Apostle, right? And you probably also knew tax collectors weren’t very well liked. But I had never stopped to consider how the inclusion of this one unpopular guy might have affected the otherwise merry band of men.
In fact, I wonder if it wasn’t just Matthew who didn’t fit in. There was Simon the Zealot (yikes), James the Lesser (not a very endearing nickname), and finally Judas Iscariot (enough said). And you can be sure James and John, Peter and Andrew brought their own family dynamics and sibling rivalries to the group.
On top of that, you have differing ages and personalities, different levels of education and depth of faith, and all of a sudden, their crowd looks a lot like ours.
In my own social circles, I’ve been guilty of wanting to exclude women whom I found irksome or cutting a conversation short with an acquaintance I deemed tiresome. I’ve put up barriers in the name of self-preservation instead of loving someone through a hard time. Maybe I’m not the only one.
But I’m convinced that we can make this thing called community work—even with our various personalities and liturgical preferences—because the disciples did. Despite their differences, they all had Christ in common, and so do we.
So if you’ve got a Matthew in your life, why not lean in and learn his story? Discover the depths and beauty of his (or her) heart. Who knows, maybe your small group could change the world, too.
Beth Davis is a lover of Jesus, a recently retired youth minister, and the Director of Ministry Advancement for Blessed is She. She is passionate about teaching women how to develop an intimate relationship with Jesus and speaking hope to weary hearts. Her favorite things include being an aunt to her five fantastic niece and nephews, the Saint Name Generator, and whatever book she’s currently reading. You can find out more about her here. She is the author of our Blessed Conversations: God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit study found here.