Drawing from the story of Levi the tax collector, Pastor Bobby Chaw encouraged the church to not ignore Jesus when He comes knocking on the door of their heart.
On the weekend of June 12 and June 13, City Harvest Church’s executive pastor, Pastor Bobby Chaw continued on the series of the Kingdom of God, encouraging the church to respond to the call of Jesus.
He opened with Matthew 6:33, emphasising that a Christian’s priority and aim in life ought to be Christlikeness and intimacy with God.
“As such, we must pay attention to the life of the spirit within,” preached Pastor Bobby. “God is calling us to meet with him and to hear his voice in a place of silence and solitude.”
Pastor Bobby brought the congregation to Luke 5 where the story of the tax collector Levi—who would later be known as the Apostle Matthew—begins. Luke 5:27-32 tells the story of how Jesus called Levi, a tax collector, to follow Him. Pastor Bobby explained that tax collectors were hated by their fellow Jews and were considered traitors who sold their services to the Romans. They would rob their own people for their personal gain. They were considered the worst sinners who had no conscience.
A large crowd had gathered around Jesus, but Levi was indifferent and had zero interest in Him, postulated Pastor Bobby. He was sitting at the tax office (Lk 5:27), counting his money. However, Jesus was very interested in Levi; instead of calling those who were in the passionate crowd, He called a self-absorbed Levi to come and follow Him. What was more shocking was that Levi immediately left all, rose and followed Jesus (Lk 5:28).
“How could such an incorrigible person change so suddenly?” the pastor asked. “First of all, you must understand the drawing of God.”
THE DRAWING OF GOD
John 6:44 says that “no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him”. Pastor Bobby elaborated, saying that no one can come to the Lord by his or her own will or ability as “we are blind and incapable of seeing, knowing or choosing God”.
Matthew 11:27 confirms the earlier Scripture that “no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him”. Unless Jesus draws an individual to Him, no one can come to the Lord. “This is God’s sovereign doing,” the pastor said.
The word “draws” in Greek is helkyō, which means to draw by inward power, to lead and impel. In other words, it is God’s grace and power working in a person’s heart that draws him to follow Jesus.
This drawing is like Jesus knocking on the door of a person’s heart (Rev 3:20). “When you feel that tugging at your heart, you must open your heart and follow Jesus”, said the pastor, referencing Hebrews 3:7-8.
Levi immediately responded when Jesus called to him. From a tax collector, he became one of Jesus’ 12 apostles. Pastor Bobby urged the church to give attention to the drawing of God, to spend time in silence and solitude and pay attention to the life of the Spirit because there is where transformation happens.
The pastor shared that recently, he was asked what made him want to come to church. “I realised that from the beginning, it has always been the drawing, the leading and urging of God in my heart—it didn’t come from me,” he reflected. Since 2020, Pastor Bobby could not travel for mission trips and thus had time to spend an hour with God every morning.
“The more I do that, the more I become aware of God’s drawing and His presence,” he said.
YOU MUST RESPOND TO THE CALL IMMEDIATELY
When Jesus called out to Levi, he immediately “left all, rose and followed Him” (Lk 5:28). Reading this verse, many would think that Levi gave up all his possessions to follow Jesus. But in the following verses, Levi gave Jesus a great feast which meant that he still had his house and a large number of servants.
“What does it mean to leave all and follow Jesus? It has to do with the disposition of your heart,” the pastor explained. “Jesus said that the kingdom of God redeemed you—the kingdom of God is not about outward observances; the kingdom of God is the rule of God in our lives.”
Previously, money and status ruled Levi’s life and directed his ways. However, when Levi heard Jesus calling, he repented immediately and had a complete change of mind. He followed Jesus unconditionally without trying to negotiate.
Levi’s response was one of absolute surrender. He came honestly to Jesus and gave all his fears and sins to Him.
“What about you? When Jesus calls, what is your response? Is Jesus the absolute ruler of your life?” Pastor Bobby asked. He urged the church to respond immediately if they hear Jesus knocking on the door of their heart.
Songs of Songs depicts the relationship between Christ and His followers. In Songs of Songs 5:2, the woman heard the knocking on the door by her lover who wishes to come in. However, she was reluctant to open the door because she was already in her nightgown—it was not convenient.
This, the pastor preached, is relatable to many Christians—they may hear Jesus knocking but expected Jesus to wait because it is inconvenient to respond to Him.
But as the Lord kept on knocking, the Shulammite woman began to be stirred. Yet when she finally opened the door, her lover was gone (Songs 5:6, MSG). This is an allegory for the Christian’s relationship with Jesus. Pastor Bobby reminded believers not to take their relationship with God for granted, not to ignore the Lord or delay letting Him into their hearts.
3 BENEFITS OF SURRENDERING TO JESUS
While he acknowledged that opening the door to Jesus meant that the believer would have face his sin and deal with bad habits, it is all worth it in the end. God promises at least three powerful benefits if a believer surrenders his life unconditionally (Mk 8:35-36).
1. For our own benefit
In Mark 8:35, Jesus said that whoever loses his life will save it. As such, like in the case of Levi, following Jesus means having to give up the wrong and sinful lifestyle, and surrendering one’s will totally to God. But, the reward of eternal life surpasses the losses. Jesus has promised His people in John 10:10 (AMP) that He came “that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]”. Jesus has come to give His people life for their own benefit.
2. For the benefit of others
In Mark 8:35, Jesus also said “whoever loses his life for the gospel’s sake”. The first thing Levi did when he started following Jesus, was to invite all his tax collectors friends to meet with Jesus at his home. He wanted them to hear the Good News. Levi eventually became known as Matthew, the Gospel writer. The name “Matthew” means “gift of God”.
As Levi, he was hated and condemned by the Jewish people, but Jesus turned his life around to become Matthew, a blessing and a gift of God. His Gospel of Jesus became the Good News that has led millions to salvation and healing the last 2,000 years.
“If you respond to Jesus, what God did for Levi, He can do for you,” said Pastor Bobby.
3. For Jesus’ sake
Again in Mark 8:35, Jesus said “whoever loses his life or My sake”. Nothing compares to the third benefit, which is to gain Christ and enjoy intimacy with Jesus.
Reading from Philippians 3:8 (MSG), Pastor Bobby shared that he has many things he wants to achieve in life and bucket list items to check off. But he agrees with Paul that all those things are insignificant in comparison to knowing Christ.
The pastor went on to note that Paul calls the knowledge of Christ a privilege. “Because the drawing and calling are only from God. Without His invitation, no one can come to the Father,” he explained.
In closing, Pastor Bobby reiterated that the Christian faith is not about outward religious observances and traditions but an intimate relationship with God.
“God is our greatest reward,” he said, adding that when he first started following Jesus, he did not know anything about the Holy Spirit or that God would call him to preach the gospel. Pastor Bobby had no ambitions for a great destiny—all he wanted was Jesus. He gave up everything that would distract him—such as computer games and outings with friends—not because he wanted a destiny, but because he wanted Jesus.
Sometimes, he said, one makes the Christian faith too complicated. It really is all about having a relationship with Christ. Concluding, Pastor Bobby exhorted the church: “Do not lose sight of your relationship with the Lord.”