Think about it. He selected Matthew – a tax collector – in a day and age when tax collectors were essentially considered Roman collaborators. Meanwhile, he also selected Simon the Zealot – a member of a radical group committed to the violent overthrow (and death) of the Romans and all the traitorous Roman collaborators…such as Matthew.
Then there was “uppity” Nathanael who thought all people from Nazareth were morons. (Nazareth just happened to be Jesus’ hometown). And to top it all off, Jesus selected four hillbilly fishermen who probably chewed their food with their mouths open and smelled like three-day-old road kill.
Undoubtedly, the selection of Matthew must have made people wonder if Jesus was going to try to “cozy up” to the Romans and advance his cause that way. While the selection of Simon certainly would have convinced many that he was following a politically radical course. Perhaps the choice of “uppity” Nathanael was seen as Jesus’ attempt to bring himself up in the world from his humble Nazareth beginnings. On the other hand, the selection of four hillbilly fishermen may have been perceived as a ploy to cast himself as a political populist and “man of the people”.
As it turned out, Jesus had no interest in pursuing any of those agendas. He never made the slightest attempt to either cozy up to the Romans or to violently overthrow them. He certainly didn’t try to climb the social ladder or use popular support to gain political clout.
Quite simply, Jesus didn’t come to follow men’s disparate and varied ideologies and pathways. He came to call disparate and varied men to FOLLOW HIM. The choosing of the twelve was Jesus’ way of vividly demonstrating that no matter how radically different their backgrounds, people can find – not just common ground – but actual fellowship and friendship by following Jesus together.
A revolutionary church is one in which no single group of people is favored over another. The wealthy aren’t favored over the poor (or vice-versa). The tattooed “cool kids” aren’t favored over the nerdy “church kids” (or vice-versa). A revolutionary church puts Jesus at the center and calls people from diverse and varied backgrounds to come together to follow him, just as the original disciples did. An old woman sitting next to a pierced & tattooed teenager who’s sitting next to a wealthy businessman who’s sitting next to a former drug addict who’s sitting next to a squeaky-clean “church kid” – all learning to follow Jesus – that’s what a truly radical church is like!
by Eron Elswick, Leadership of Revolution