Today as we continue our current message series, The Chosen, we're looking at the life of Matthew, who broke out of isolation to follow Jesus. The multi-season show The Chosen portrays Matthew the tax collector as a social outcast. See, Matthew lived a lonely life in Jewish culture because tax collectors were known as sinners who overtaxed the Jewish people for their own profit. Today as we face a worldwide pandemic, physical isolation is something we have all become familiar with. But, Jesus is calling you out!
Did you know there are actually three main cages of isolation that God has called us out of? These are the cages of Self-Isolation, Social Isolation which leads to loneliness, and Spiritual Isolation. In the Bible, we see Matthew hid in his isolation behind the tax collector’s booth until Jesus called him out. Like Matthew, what cages of isolation are you hiding in? Let's dive deeper to learn how to recognize if we are in one of these cages - so we can learn how to break out of loneliness and isolation.
#1) Cage of Self Isolation
The cage of self isolation is the cage that keeps us from seeing our inner self. This is where we compartmentalize inner conflict and ignore it instead of seeking a solution. How do you know when you're trapped in this cage? When you keep telling yourself "I'm fine. I'm ok. Really!" It may be a common courtesy to say "I'm ok" in small talk, but we betray our thoughts and emotions when we try to convince ourselves of this when it's not true. We all experience a range of emotions - and it's actually ok to not be ok sometimes.
#2) Cage of Social Isolation
The next of our three cages is the cage of social isolation. This is the cage that keeps us from connecting with others. This is where what we're facing beneath the surface meets the external stresses of daily life. When we hide in this cage, we tend to look for ways to escape by putting up barriers between ourselves and those around us and tuning out.
#3) Cage of Spiritual Isolation
The third and final cage we tend to hide in when life gets hard is the cage of spiritual isolation. This is the cage that keeps us distant from God. When we're trapped here, we tend to turn towards vices to cope with pain, stress, and the challenges of life. However, after the temporary pleasures of these coping mechanisms, there tends to be a cage of guilt that falls over you. When you're trapped in this cage, you likely feel ashamed and separated from God.
We all have experiences, past hurts, and cages that keep us from experiencing the fullness of communion with God. We must break free of these cages! As we see in The Chosen and in the Gospel of Matthew 9:9-13, this disciple was called out of his cage as he stood in his tax collector booth. In his sin, Jesus called him out to follow Him.
Wherever you are in your faith journey, Jesus is calling you out of isolation and loneliness to experience communion with Him like never before. Maybe you’ve been in a cage of doubt, but you hear the voice of God calling you. Don’t harden your heart. Let today be the day you experience what it is to be free of your cages and in relationship with God!