Relationships – Day 10
Role players in your life: Zacchaeus, your “outsider”
In Luke 19 we read about a wealthy Jew, Zacchaeus, who worked for the Romans as chief tax collector. He climbed the ladder of success to the top by his dishonesty and collusion with the Romans. This made him a hated outcast of the Jewish people — a sinful man with whom decent people did not associate — let alone stay with! (Luke 19:5-7).
And yet Jesus, as so many times before with “outsiders”, intentionally chooses to stand still and befriend them: “And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house’ ” (Luke 19:5). This encounter with Jesus and His acknowledgement of him as a person, brought about a complete change in Zacchaeus and his home — a thief became a cheerful giver, miraculously developed a conscience and was saved. Then Jesus said to him: “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9).
In modern context the Zacchaeus’ of today position themselves strategically to be seen and heard. They are in your face; they are tactless when they speak their mind, but often pick a sensitive string; their unorthodox ways of doing things sometimes hit a bull’s eye; their uncomfortable questions challenge your beliefs and they “climb a tree” so that you can look up and see more than leaves on a tree. With no expectation to be called to come down, they are so caught off guard when they are invited for coffee, that they almost eagerly fall out of the tree.
Like Jesus, we have to look past who or what “outsiders” are and start seeing them as people who need love, but can also give it. No one is beyond the reach of the love of Christ, therefore we can only touch other people’s lives with His love if we follow the “one-another” approach — love one another, give to one another, encourage one another, learn from one another … If you can do this, the brave step of entering their “outside” neighbourhoods and lives, becomes the first baby step out of your comfort zone, selfishness and self-righteousness, and for them a first tottering step on the road of hope and “visibility” of people.
How should you go about it? By approaching one person at a time — with help: “For without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).