This past week our church had a familiar evangelist come and speak. I say familiar because he visits our church often and comes with such amazing insights into God's word. He spoke from Proverbs 30 which was all good. But he brought us over to Luke 19 very briefly. However it was this message that gripped me.
Even today, four days later I have landed on this one verse that has challenged my heart. We all know the story of Zachaeus. Short businessman, cheated people out of taxes, heard Jesus was in town, knew his stature would keep him from seeing Jesus, he climbed a tree, Jesus saw him and Jesus told him that he was going to Zachaeus's house. Yep that pretty much sums it up. I get the story, and have since I was probably ten years old. Even my kids know the story and the song to go along with it.
So, what has hit me sideways this week. Verse 7
..."But when they saw it, they all complained saying that he (Jesus) has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner..."
The followers of Jesus complaining about who Jesus chose to hang out with is just baffling to me, but so real of what we Christians run and hide from....sinners. Hello, last I check ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
This verse has me thinking all week long that there was complaining because Jesus chose a sinner. It is so like Jesus to sit and have wine with sinners. I think it's a very compelling story by today's standards. This verse had challenged me. I am a Christian and I seek to live my life like Jesus. Even in my Christian-ness I am still a sinner needing to be mindful of every word, action and thought I have. Am I being Jesus. Am I complaining when I see a person living like Christ spending time with a (in a whispering voice) sinner.
I don't want to be part of the crowd complaining. At our church, our pastors and many staff members will stay up front after each service and extend prayer, a hug, and listening ears to hearts that are hurting, celebrating, or just an offer of encouragement. These are my modern day Jesus's because they are seeking to live and be Jesus. Often I have watched as I see so many trying to get an opportunity to chat with them. I have to admit. One time I sat and watched one of the pastors talk for a long time to this one guy, who apparently had just walked into the church and I felt my heart complain a little because I had something important to share. But in the moments that followed, I realized the tenderness this pastor had towards this man, who wanted to know and seek Jesus. For a moment I was like the complaining crowd.
Okay, this may all sound silly. I don't sit at my desk with concordances, and Bible books to learn what it all means. I don't think God expects us all to be scholars of the Word. His Word speaks to us right where we are at. And it's always a blessing to have someone with more knowledge bring the Word to greater meaning, but I tell you. Oh to be Zachaeus that day. Knowing he had a hard heart, knowing that he was cheating people, and yet his heart yearned for more and yearned to just get a glimpse of this savior... and the song goes...."and as the Savior passed that day he looked up in the tree and said Zachaeus you come down, for I am going to your house today". (verse 5).
I challenge each person who takes time to read this to ask yourself if you are complaining about what Jesus is doing in the hearts of others or do you grumble and complain?