Yesterday I heard a message that challenged me– and encouraged me. The passage reference was Luke 19:1-10; the story of Zacchaeus.
Many of us are familiar with the Sunday School tune:
Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he. He climbed up in a sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see. And as the Savior went that way, He looked up in the tree and said, “Zacchaeus, you come down. For I’m going to your house today.”
It sounds so cute, so harmless. Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector in the area, though. People despised him. He worked for the Roman government taking money from his fellow countrymen and pocketing money for himself in the process. He was unwelcome and far from desired company.
When Jesus went to Zacchaeus’ house the people grumbled that Jesus was spending time with a sinner and wondering why He wouldn’t choose to spend time with them instead. Forgetting all the while, they were sinners too. Some people just sin in private and out of earshot or sight from everyone else.
Zacchaeus wasn’t told by Jesus to “get his act together” and then Jesus would come to His house. He wasn’t told to grovel, apologize to his fellow countrymen, give away everything to show how sorry he truly was– and THEN Jesus would come to him. No. Jesus came, sat down, ate a meal with Zacchaeus and spent time with him. And somewhere during that time Zacchaeus’ heart changed. Maybe it was a look Jesus gave him, maybe it was something Jesus said, whatever it was prompted Zacchaeus to give away half of what he had and pay back four times what he has stolen.
Jesus had an impact on Zacchaeus because He met Zacchaeus where he was–in the middle of his sin.
How often do we say about those around us that once they clean up their act, dress the way they are supposed to dress, vote the way they are supposed to vote, or marry the person they are supposed to marry, then and only then will we come into their lives…
Really? Is that what Jesus did?
Now, it’s hard, no kidding. Sometimes it is extremely difficult to enter into a relationship with someone who is so completely opposite, someone who makes you feel uncomfortable. But, my question for you– and for me– is aren’t they worth it?
Zacchaeus may have been short in stature, but his spirit sure walked tall after his encounter with Jesus. It was radically different for him after that meal.
Would someone be able to say the same thing about you? About me?
It’s time to meet people where they are, love them, encourage them, listen to them. Only then will we have earned the right to speak into who they could be with Christ in their lives.