“Peeps,” “How are your peeps?” is a slang way of asking about your friends. Often when the kids were home on break from boarding school in Kenya, I would try to have ordered a dozen day-old baby peepers, baby chicks. They were great entertainment for the children. So peeps implies to me, a group of friends that are beloved and in agreement. It implies relationship. Who do we associate with is the question that comes to mind from today’s scene in Mark 2. Jesus does not seem concerned with “herd immunity.”
The story in Mark again challenges us as Jesus is working with his “peeps,” directing his “herd” of followers, walking beside the lake when he notices the outcast – the tax collector, Levi. Even we probably do not cozy up with the IRS, with the felon, with the “fringe elements” in our society. We might nod our head in their direction. Jesus goes beyond noticing and gives a simple invitation, “Follow me.” He shocks everyone there. But Levi doesn’t just drop all his friends and follow, finally being included with the “in-group.” Levi throws a party and invites his outcast friends, “tax collectors and sinners.” Jesus eats with them and is criticized. How can he associate with people like that?
So I am led to reflect on the diversity in my “peeps?” Do all my friends look like me and agree with me? That is a tough question in our polarized society. I turn on the radio and hear people being challenged about their political allegiances, about their willingness to wear a mask, about their ethnic origins… You name it and we are willing to debate and challenge the credibility of the other. Will the votes on the impeachment be secret ballots to protect the lives of the voters? We are afraid to “peep up” about our opinions.
Diversity does not seem to bother Jesus. He does not seem to be choosing followers because of their education, because of their political correctness, because of their connections. In fact, he calls people like you and me to “follow.” Amazing. He simply says, “Follow me.” In our task oriented thinking, that simple command challenges us. God’s question is not what we have done, what we have learned, how are we dressed but are we willing to follow his way.
Jesus responds to his critics. People who do not understand they are sick, do not need a doctor so do not need him – the Son of God. The doctor is for the sick, not the healthy. Following is acknowledging we need help. Today as we listen to the news, go about our tasks, rub shoulders with people different from us, may we open our hearts and hear the voice of God telling us how to “follow,” how to see “the other” as one of the peeps Jesus wants to follow him.