Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April 18

Joshua 16:1-18:28; Luke 19:1-27; Psalm 87:1-7; Proverbs 13:11

I often think that many of today's evangelical Christian churches don't look too different than the culture around them. We seem to have taken on so many of the American culture's values, beliefs, and rules of life. We are so afraid of offending people, or being labeled narrow-minded, that we oftentimes lose sight of the clear guidelines God has set up for our blessing and protection. I mean, how could you have read this far into the One Year Bible and not seen how seriously God takes sin? And how badly things go for his people when they make light of it and do not keep themselves as a holy people?

Yet in our reading today in Luke 19, we see Jesus doing something almost unimaginable for a religious person to do in that day's Jewish culture. Jesus has "gone to be the guest of a 'sinner'" (vs. 7). We all know this Sunday school story well. How Zacchaeus climbs up a sycamore tree to see Jesus, and how Jesus stops where he is, looks up and him, and calls him to himself. It seems like such a mild, happy story on paper, but I have often missed the implications of this story in my own life today. 

For some time, I have been struggling with how the church should look today. In the city where I live, there is a huge homosexual population, there are unmarried men and women living and sleeping together, there are divorced and remarried people, there are those who let greed and the love of money rule their lives, and so many more such lifestyles. Where is the place for them? Is there a place for them in the church? What will happen to the church if all those people start coming? 

Maybe these are some of the same questions the Jewish community was asking in the time of Jesus. Maybe they were trying to preserve the call to holiness and the observance of the law as was commanded clearly in Scripture. Yet I am challenged with what to do about these "sinners." I am uncomfortable with their lifestyles, and I want them to leave their lifestyles before entering the church. But is that what Jesus does? Here in this Luke passage we see him come to Zacchaeus, stop where Zacchaeus is, look at him and call to him. Jesus then goes to his house and is clearly seen among "sinners." Jesus says, "I came to seek and to save what was lost" (vs. 10). Jesus goes to meet the sinners where they are, and then calls them out of their sin. 

Should all this happen outside the church? How can they truly be called out of sin and into the way of life if they are not in regular fellowship and worship with those who know, and now represent, Jesus? I don't have all these things figured out yet, for sure. But I do know this, I will be a little slower to judge, I hope. I will be a little quicker to have compassion on those who are lost. I will be a little more open to inviting them into, and also entering myself, a space where "sinner" and saved can fellowship together. Only there can Jesus call them out of their sin and into himself.

- Mary Matthias

How did God speak to you in Scripture today? Click here to share your reflections on God's word or read past posts. We'd love to hear from you. 

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