The 12 Disciples. Last week in our youth class we began our 12 Disciples of Jesus series. This group of merry men was quite a crew of different talents and personalities.

Luke 6

12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Splitting hairs. Not only did these men vary in character, but also profession and social status. Here, we have fishermen, a tax collector, and a zealot. Fishermen were pretty standard and needed for the community. What about tax collectors and zealots? Tax Collectors would line the Mediterranean coast, infiltrate the trading of goods, and even show up on the doorsteps of houses. This frustration must have been similar to the debacle of “No Taxation without Representation.” They were a walking reminder of the evil Roman empire. Zealots were of a different breed. Some scholars suggest that they were akin to the political extremists we see today that took physical action against the Roman rule. If there were two people that Jesus could have chosen to represent his encompassing Gospel, it would be Matthew and Simon.

Acceptance and Transformation. I love talking about the transformation that the presence of God creates. This transformation is found in great narratives such as that of the disciples, the conversion of Saul -> Paul, and those heroes of the Hebrew Bible that take on the Spirit of the Lord. Although this is an integral part of ministry and following Christ, I think sometimes it allows others to overlook His acceptance. The disciples were first included in Christ’s ministry before any change was required. Prior to any lesson or correction, there was a, “Follow me.”

Labels. If the documentary on high school life, Mean Girls, taught me anything it’s that there are labels and class distinctions not only in the cafeteria but in every aspect of life for all ages. When we look at politics today, it seems like the same thing on a grandiose scale. With competition for civil rights, sexual identity, and religious liberty, there are many gaps and lunch tables in our American society. To fill in these gaps, I believe that acceptance needs to be our first priority rather than transformation. When there is tension between a family of believers and someone’s diversity or identity, they should be accepted with the love of Christ. Simon was included before he was transformed. It wasn’t until he spent time in the presence of Christ and His people that he left the shackles of Simon to become Peter.

Video Cred: Mean Girls by Paramount Pictures