Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Seeking and saving the lost

"Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of
Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was
lost."
--Luke 19:9-10 (NASB)
This is the proclamation with which Jesus answered the crowd’s bewilderment at His acceptance of Zaccheus. We have long taken this story as the great example of a short man giving up his ways of sin and giving his life to Christ. Zaccheus was lost (in sin as a tax collector) and Jesus called him and saved him.

But is this what really happened, or have we missed the deeper meaning of Jesus’ mission? If we read the previous verse (v. 8) in various translations, we get a muddy picture of Zaccheus life: was he pledging to begin giving half his possessions to the poor and paying back fourfold any ill-gotten gains, or was Zaccheus avowing what his current practice was? If you look at the Greek, I believe, the latter is the better translation (I’m no Greek scholar, so I rely on others). Zaccheus was a pious man, despite his despised profession; if Jesus came to seek him, he who was “lost” but not in the sin we supposed, then what did Jesus mean by calling Zaccheus lost?

the ElderlyThere is more to being lost than not being able to find your own way. You can be lost because you have been discarded. Discarded and rejected as Zaccheus was, not because of sin but because of who he associated with, what his job was, and the presupposition of unrighteous acts. How many people do we each know like Zaccheus, thrown away by the world and the church alike rather than embraced? I think of a guy I knew in college, who would come to sing and visit at a nursing home with me and a few others every week. He had a nice bass voice, but preferred to sing tenor horribly off-key. He did not have the greatest personality. He was run off by others who did not accept that there was more to his presence there than his voice, that he came to serve.

the orphanedI also think about several friends that Erin and I have made over the years. To the best of my knowledge, we are their only church friends; this is due at least in part to the fact that no one else has made an effort to embrace them. Erin, especially, is good at this reaching the lost – her heart is phenomenally soft and caring. But why has no one else reached out to them? And then, I see some of the non-church friends Erin has made – as worldly and sinful as you can imagine, and yet they care more for people and welcome those new to them or different from them so readily.

It is an enigma to me that I often see the world doing a better job of embracing the lost than do the arms of the body of Christ. I have read in several blogs lately of people desiring to stand up and seek the lost. People who are starting to visit nursing homes, visit orphanages, etc. How have we all been doing on the talk we made? Are we acting on our words, on the call of Jehovah? For Erin and I, we are working on becoming sponsors for a child at a children’s home in South Texas, near the Mexican border. We want to monetarily support this child; but we also wish to be a physical and emotional boon to this child, taking him or her into our home occasionally to give a chance at a life away from the cottages and other children. I’d love to hear how others have been brought to serve Christ by touching others.

And I thank God that he brought Erin to me to teach me something of how to care for others.

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