I can see the headlines now. Preacher being seen dining with a sinner. Oh my, the horror of it all. What would a Preacher be doing being seen with any type of sinner?
Have you been there? Have you been driving and catch sight of someone at church with someone you know doesn't attend church at all? You know those thoughts we have. I'm not the only one. I've been on both sides of this dining table.
For much of my Christian life I have only surrounded myself with Christians. If you were to ask me who my then friends were I'd have told you they were all Christians. I didn't have one single friend who didn't attend church.
I look back with great shame. If you ask me now I can tell you that many of my friends have yet to accept Jesus as Savior. Yes, I'm a girl who knows no boundaries. I don't put limits on my Jesus any longer. I open up my life to everyone. Sadly, it wasn't always like that.
I was taught to surround myself with Christians. Yes, that is true, but we too must remember we are ALL sinners. I am no better than anyone else and if I don't open up my life for the world around me, where God has planted me, how will I share Jesus with those who don't know Him? It's impossible to share Jesus with others if we don't open our hearts and allow Jesus to guide our steps outside of our comfort zone.
Oh, Zacchaeus, the man, the sinner, the one seated opposite of Jesus. Luke 19:1-10
"Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house." So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, "He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner."" Luke 19:1-7
Yes, Zacchaeus, the sinner, with those short legs, who climbed up a tree to see just who this Jesus is, is the man whose life was changed forever by the Savior. A Savior who knew the name of Zacchaeus. He didn't have to ask his name. He knew him. He knew his heart. Jesus didn't ask Zacchaeus to come with Him. He told Zacchaeus He was coming to his house! Jesus invited Himself to the home of a sinner.
Can you hear the whispers of the people watching around every corner? Did they too not know that they were sinners as well? Did they think they were different, somehow more special than Zacchaeus? To God, all of His children are special. He calls each of us to come and join Him. But He goes even farther than that. He comes to us, right where we are, and invites us to dine with Him. One on one, heart to heart, the moment when our soul connects with the Savior and the Spirit comes alive in us. Sheer beauty.
I can envision the moment Zacchaeus took sight of Jesus. Was it instant for him? He was curious. He was ready. His heart had been prepared for just this moment and Jesus knew he was ready to receive a house call from the Savior.
Be ready to lay out the welcome mat, my friends. Jesus is always at work inviting people into our paths. People outside of our normal circles. If we are to reach the world we must stop limiting God and putting up boundaries around us. We have to open ourselves up and be ready to be the vessel He has called us to be.
He has a way of changing hearts. He changed this sinner.