Every Christian a missionary
“As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me’. And he got up and followed him” (NRSV, Matthew 9:9)
At the time when this momentous call came to Matthew, changing his whole life from that hour, Our Lord was already a widely discussed personality, not only round the Lake of Galilee but all over Northern Palestine and throughout the province of Syria.
Matthew’s office, from which he collected the customs payable by ships crossing the lake, commanded a good view of the beach where Our Lord was a frequent visitor and where much of his teaching was done when he stayed at Capernaum. It is extremely likely, therefore, that Matthew had taken the opportunity to listen to Jesus on these occasions, and afterwards no doubt he discussed Our Lord, as indeed everyone was doing, with his own friends and business associates.
It may well be that he had thought of becoming a disciple himself, and perhaps wondered what he would do if Our Lord were to call him as he had already called some of the young fishermen he knew. So when the call came, he got up without hesitation and, leaving the clerk in charge of the office, never went back to it again. Like the other disciples, he also left all and followed him.
From that day forth his life no longer centred round the accumulation and spending of money, but round his personal relationship with Our Lord. In view of his previous occupation with which no strict Jew, nor indeed any honest man, would associate himself, it is doubtful if he had made much practice of religion. In any case, it would have been widely removed from the fervent and inspired devotion which now possessed him. As his life became more closely associated with Our Lord’s, so religion became less and less an outside activity which could be put off like a coat. Instead, it became a compelling force within his soul which gave impetus and direction to everything he did or planned. His whole attitude to life, indoors and out of doors, was determined by one consideration – Our Lord first and last.