I’m about to step up onto my soapbox. I’ve wanted to do this for some time but I couldn’t think of anywhere to post my thoughts except on Facebook and there is no purpose in that. I realized as I was sitting in church this morning, that I could speak from my soapbox on this blog. So…here goes.
When Jesus was alive, he attracted people to him. Why? What were people attracted to? He was neither handsome or wealthy. Some may have heard about the miracles he performed and wanted to see for themselves. Others just came out of curiosity to see what a gathering crowd was all about.
Zacchaeus was one of those who was curious about the crowds in Jericho the day that Jesus was passing through. According to Luke 16:1-9, Zacchaeus was a Jew who worked as a tax collector. (That wasn’t a good thing for a Jew to do. The Jews saw him as a traitor, a cheat and a sinner. They wanted nothing to do with him.)
Zacchaeus is said to have been a very short man, so he climbed up into a tree to get a better look. When Jesus got to the place where Zacchaeus was sitting, he looked up and told him to come down from the tree. When Zacchaeus came down Jesus immediately welcomed him and told him he wanted to go to his house for supper.
Zacchaeus was certainly not expecting this. He just wanted to see what was going on. But when Jesus “welcomed him” and invited himself to dinner at Zacchaeus’ house he readily agreed. (He also repented of all the cheating he had done as a tax collector and vowed to give it back fourfold.) Why would Zacchaeus respond this way?
Zacchaeus responded to Jesus’ expression of acceptance and love!
And, now, here comes the soapbox! When are Christians going to wake up and realize that our faith is only attractive to people when we treat others the way Jesus treated Zacchaeus? He didn’t start lecturing him about being dishonest as soon as his feet touched the ground. He didn’t grab him by his robe and shove him towards a group of angry men so they could stone him. Instead he threw his arms around Zacchaeus and probably kissed him on each cheek, as was the typical way of greeting a friend. He made him feel loved and accepted.
It seems to me that I hear too many Christians speaking in ways that are neither loving or accepting. These words are harsh and judgmental. We need to stop judging other people as “sinners” because of their life style or their beliefs. We need to accept others and love them as Jesus did. When we do that, we might actually create opportunities to open up lines of communication and have conversations that could lead to productive resolutions of some of today’s issue. Instead, our harsh words and judgmental attitudes push people away from anything that is supposedly Christian.
Until people start seeing Christians as people who are loving and accepting, we won’t be attractive to anyone. And I certainly don’t think that Jesus will be very pleased with our judgmental attitudes either. After all, he is the one that gave us ALL the gift of free will. We ALL get to make choices about how we live our lives. Of course those choices have consequences- some will be good and others will be bad. But it isn’t our job to judge the choices of others. When it is time for judgment, that will be done by God.
So, I’ve had my say and I’m stepping off my soapbox, for now!