Today's Readings - 1 Samuel 17-18, Luke 18:31–43, Psalm 54, Proverbs 11:29-31
Zaccheus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he...
It's one of the stories that we church kids heard in Sunday School, about the little guy who climbed the tree to see Jesus. As is often the case, our familiarity with stories like this often causes us to miss the bigger picture.
The heart and soul of this story is the nature of the kingdom of God and the nature of Jesus Christ's mission in this world. He was locked in a constant battle with the religious leaders who had, by this time, decided he had to go and were plotting his demise. They disdained him for many reasons. But he was not focusing on them, not trying to appeal to them. They were not the primary targets of his message. Jesus came for the lost sheep of Israel, those broken by sin.
He came for Zaccheus, a tax collector. A cheater. A thief. Someone everyone else hated, rejected, and avoided. But Jesus dined with him. That drew the ire of the Pharisees but it was the heart of Jesus to reach out to men like him.
It ought to be the heart of the church as well. The poor. Minorities. Refugees. Addicts. Those whose lives have been totally broken by sin. We need to not simply speak a gospel message to them, but we need to engage their lives. Jesus did not stand at the doorway of Zaccheus' home and shout the message inside to him. Jesus went in and stayed at his house. He accepted Zaccheus' hospitality. He built a relationship and from that relationship he declared the message of repentance...effectively.
We cannot proclaim the gospel at arm's length. We cannot simply send gospel tracts to the other side of the tracks. We have to get our hands dirty. We have to engage the sinful world personally, lovingly, and genuinely. Anything less than that will not only be ineffective, it will be unChristlike.
Father, forgive me for how I have often tried to engage in Christ's work at arm's length. Help me to find a way to minister in this world as Christ ministered to Zaccheus.
Think and Pray
What is required of you to minister to sinners in this world as Christ ministered to Zaccheus?