We’ve been doing a series recently that addresses our inadvertent treatment of non-Christians, especially those with lives, behaviors, and beliefs that conflict with Scriptures. Too often, we adopt a superior attitude of privilege as if we’re better than other people. Whether we want to admit it or not, to an extent, we label others, which unfortunately, makes it even more difficult to lovingly introduce them to God. We forget where we would be without the Grace and Love of Christ.
“Then Jesus entered and walked through Jericho. There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way – he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by. When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, ’Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.’ Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, ‘What business does he have getting cozy with this crook (notorious sinner)?’ Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned. He stammered apologetically, ‘Master, I give away half my income to the poor – and if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damages.’ Jesus said, ‘Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost’ (Luke 19:1-10).
Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector who became rich by overtaxing fellow Jews. I’m sure tax collectors have never been popular, but he in particular was hated because he collaborated with the Romans. His practices made him rejected and despised. His physical disability made him: overlooked and ignored.
We ignorantly focus on people’s negatives
“He wanted desperately to see Jesus.” Despite his reputation, Zacchaeus had a deep spiritual hunger and because he was ostracized, he had an emotional vacuum. They disregarded his potential to follow Christ and allowed their anger to deprive him of that chance.
We get in the way of people believing
”But the crowd was in his way.” They were too busy being blessed to allow anyone else the chance to experience God’s kindness. How have we presented the Gospel? Rules and regulations? Do’s and don’ts? Imposing an impossible standard that we’re not even willing to follow?. Do we present God as tyrannical and punitive? Who’d want to follow Him? Do we allow anyone to see the real Jesus not filtered through our view of people?
We must be bold in expressing our love
”I must stay at your house tonight.” Jesus was aware of the holes in Zacchaeus’ heart and was unafraid to be associated with him. His priority was loving, caring, and restoring. Jesus was attracted to Zacchaeus’ needs, loneliness, and hunger.
We must lay aside our personal agendas and preferences
“For the Son of man came to seek and save what was lost.” We’ve inherited that same calling, to touch, embrace, and heal those who are searching. We get so busy saving the saved and figuring out how to hold onto them or vilifying those who repulse us and make our journeys more uncomfortable. We forget those who have lost all hope and who are so ready for an encounter with God.
Who is the last outsider I reached out to?
Who is the last person I rejected, judged, overlooked or ignored?