I recently had a conversation with a good friend who was telling me about a family member who is….ahem…challenging – to say the least. As I think back to what she was sharing with me about this person, I can’t help but think of Zacchaeus. I know I have written about this story before in a previous post, but as I couldn’t sleep tonight, I just kept thinking of the similarities. In the time of Zacchaeus, having a guy like him in your life would have definitely fit the description of “challenging”. He was a tax collector in the days that tax collectors were like social piranhas. They were cheats, they were greedy and they were sellouts that were disliked by all of their own people. But the day came that Jesus was passing through town and Zacchaeus,with all his faults, was also short so he couldn’t see past the crowd. So little Zacchaeus shimmied up a sycamore tree to get a look at this “Messiah”. As Jesus got to the tree where he was perched, he looked up and told Zacchaeus to come down out of that tree quickly, that he was coming over for dinner. Of course, all of the religious people were appalled and began to whisper about how Jesus was hanging with a “sinner”. But you know what? The very next verse is one of my favorite plot twists of all time:
“But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Oh, how I love this!! Just by seeing Jesus, Zacchaeus was compelled to do good. To change who he was. To right his wrongs. Verse 9 says that Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house.” By seeing Jesus, an entire legacy changed.
I think back to that conversation with my friend about her “challenging” family member and I remember something else she said. She said it so simply, but it has been echoing in my heart all night as I toss and turn. She said, “Who else is going to show Jesus to her?”
What if I dared ask myself that question? What if the next time I go through the checkout at Wal-Mart, I look into the eyes of the cashier and ask myself, “Who else is going to show Jesus to her?” What about the next time my kids are all whining and throwing fits in unison and all I want to do is lock myself in my room and throw my own tantrum? What if I ask, “Who else is going to show Jesus to them?”
“…make the most of every opportunity.” Colossians 4:5
Every moment is an opportunity. I’m so glad that someone took the opportunity to show Jesus to me – gave me my ‘Zacchaeus moment’. What might happen to that family member who weirds us out, or the cashier at Wal-Mart or our fit-throwing toddlers? What if we give them their ‘Zacchaeus moment’? A chance to see Jesus. A chance to right wrongs. A chance to change their legacy? Because if not us…then who else…?
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…” Ephesians 5:1-2