Later, Jesus and his disciples went to have a meal with Levi. Among the guests in Levi’s home were many tax collectors and notable sinners sharing a meal with Jesus, for there were many kinds of people who followed him. But when the religious scholars and the Pharisees found out that Jesus was keeping company and dining with sinners and tax collectors, they were indignant. So they approached Jesus’ disciples and said to them, “Why is it that someone like Jesus defiles himself by eating with sinners and tax collectors?”
But when Jesus overheard their complaint, he said to them, “Who goes to the doctor for a cure? Those who are well or those who are sick? I have not come to call the ‘righteous,’ but those who are sinners and bring them to repentance.”
I had a bright lime green bathing suit when I was about seven years old. It is the only bathing suit I really ever remember having. I think that is probably because it is what I wore when I finally gained freedom from the “swimmies” my mother had insisted I wear in our pool. The swimmies served their purpose for many years, keeping me afloat and safe above water, but they also kept me from truly experiencing the fullness of swimming. No matter how hard I tried, I could not make myself stay below the water with those bothersome swimmies on. But without them, oh the fun that awaited me. I was free! Free to jump in the deep end and stay below the surface of the water. Free to explore with goggles suctioned on my face for hours, create mermaid hairstyles with the assistance of the skimmer jet, and see just how many times I could cross the pool underwater without coming up for air. I loved to be in the water – fully submersed and all that it held for me as a skinny seven year old in a lime green bathing suit!
Sometimes I think we go through life as if we have swimmies on. Never really breaking the surface in our relationships and in our faith. We like the safety, we even crave it sometimes, of gently skimming across the top of the water of our lives. It feels easier, less messy.
Maybe all I have done today is create a funny picture in your mind of a scrawny kid in a lime green bathing suit. But I hope what it reminds you of are the times in your life when you weren’t afraid to jump in the deep end with no swimmies on. I hope you see that is, as we read in today’s passage, how Jesus lived…fully submerged, sometimes swimming in what looked, to those around him, dangerously and even carelessly – like the deep end. It wasn’t enough for him to just skim the surface, but to live in the hard places of people’s lives, shoulder to shoulder in the deep waters with an authentic love that drew them into a relationship that would literally change their lives.
As you go into your day today, consider the idea that Jesus might be asking you to ditch the swimmies and jump into the deep end with those around you.