Good morning, peeps!
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” – John 12:32 KJV
(Spoiler alert: this is not a feel-good devo this morning)
As a child – okay, adult too – I used to wonder why more people didn’t go to church, why they wanted nothing to do with Jesus. Like, “what’s wrong with y’all??”…that would be my question. I have friends who’ve said to me, “I support you, D, and I love what you’re doing in ministry, but naaahhh. I’m good on the church tip.” I was given the answer to my “why” question early on as I was taught that it was because they just didn’t want to do right: they were selfish and sinful and didn’t want to give up “the world”. Well…that never sat well with me and I always challenged that blanket statement because surely that wasn’t everybody’s reason. This came back to mind this weekend when I revisited Jesus’ encounter with Zaccheus in Luke 19.
If you read it, you’ll see that Zach (yeah, I just did that) chose material wealth over spiritual wealth. I totally get why he would. I do. See, back in the day, rabbis taught that tax collectors had zero hope of entering heaven. So, (putting myself in Zach’s shoes) if you told me that I had no hope of entering heaven, then why in the world would I pursue it? Why would I seek a relationship with a God who you say doesn’t want anything to do with me? Are you kidding me? You got me twisted, son! Imma go for what I know!
I get it, Z. I get it. Been there.
Here’s the 2nd part of the account that grabbed me: Zach was curious about Jesus. Oh yeaahhh. Even though he’d already been given a “death sentence” by the religious leaders (I hope you peeped who’s doing all of the talking), Zach was still curious about Life. And this curiosity led him to do something out of the ordinary to see Jesus: he climbed a tree. And then Jesus, seeing this, invited HIMSELF over to Zach’s house. Hold up! Are you screaming right now?? I’m playing the role of Zach: “You mean to tell me that Jesus who, according to YOU, shouldn’t/wouldn’t have anything to do with a sinner like me, is coming to MY house?? I mean, He just invited Himself over! Did y’all see that??! And not only that, did you hear Him say that I, crooked-as-the-day-is-long Zach – I admit it – am a son of Abraham?”
There are so many people who have just gone for what they know rather than seek a relationship with Jesus because of us – the body of Christ. We’ve beat them down from behind the pulpit and the lectern, beckoning them to come near while shoving them away at the same time. Oh, we may not come right out and say that they have no hope of entering heaven, but the messages we preach, the conversations we have, and the way we look down our noses conveys that. So why would they pursue it? Would you?
The winds are shifting… You wanna see a move of God? It’s going to be through the most unlikely people. You need to get hip to this: there is something inside of them – call it “curiosity” if you want – that’s rising up and they don’t care what the church says anymore. They want to find out for themselves. These same folks are going to be the ones who are willing to do the crazy, like climb a tree, to get a glimpse of Jesus. This just hit me: perhaps climbing the tree was not only Zach’s way of getting above the crowd so that he could see Jesus, but it was also his way of getting AWAY from the crowd – their judgment and their words – so that he could see Jesus. Folks are about to come to Christ in some of the most unusual ways and He’s going to honor their efforts.
And the church can keep snatching back the welcome mat if we want to. It won’t matter. Jesus will just invite Himself over to their house because He sees them for who they are. Not damaged goods. Not hopeless cases: as sons and daughters of Abraham. Have a great day.