I continue to edit this months chapter Grace for my new book Lets Go Find This Kingdom Come. However, at this point I don't see it being ready to be fully posted by months end. So instead I will continue to post excerpts and leave last months chapter seven Prone to Love up. Below is two sections I've edited together for the blog. Zacchaeus
Zacchaeus was short. He was also a sinner – no relation. Zacchaeus was a man who was unfamiliar with Love as evidenced by how he lived his life. He was a thief and he was also a tax collector – no relation. However, it seems he used his position of power to steal from the people in his hometown of Jericho.
One day, while sitting in a tree in order to catch a glimpse of the arriving famous fella from Nazareth, Zacchaeus encountered the good news. He met Jesus, who loves both sinners and tax collectors.
I imagine you know the story. It’s found in Luke. It’s also been wonderfully preserved in a children’s song that employs the words wee and little. As Jesus is walking through the crowded street past Zacchaeus’ tree, He looks up and greets the short man by name. “Zacchaeus, I must come to your house tonight!” He says. And then Jesus, Love in human form, the Father perfectly revealed, goes to the wee little sinner’s place for dinner.
I’m sure you remember what happened next?
Jesus made sure that Zacchaeus knew he was desperately wicked. He pointed out a number of Zacchaeus’ sins and informed him that if he didn’t change his ways he was on the fast train to hell. Then, just in case Zacchaeus didn’t understand, Jesus described hell. Finally, after Zacchaeus was convinced of his shame and unworthiness, Jesus told him God loved him.
My favorite part of this fictional version of the story is when the disciples handed out tracks to the passer-bys. The tracks were pretty clever. One side looked like money while the other had some inspirational writing on it, about hell and how much God loves us.
Is my sarcasm too strong?
The fact is, not once did Jesus mention Zacchaeus’ sinful ways. Not once did He chastise him, correct him, or challenge him. There was no shameful insinuation, no demeaning eye rolling, no suggestive mothering tone in Jesus voice, quite the opposite. Jesus actions were loud and clear. “I love you and I am going to treat you the way my Father see’s you."
I would like to suggest that mercy and grace are two sides of the same coin, both expressions of our Fathers always-good love.
I have heard mercy and grace described like this, “Mercy is not getting what you deserve, and grace is getting what you don’t deserve.” I like that. I also think you could say it this way, mercy reveals our Father and settles the issue of sin. Grace reveals our Father and settles the issue of identity.
Zacchaeus was a thief and a liar, he had a sinful nature, he was prone to wander. But one encounter with Love changed everything. When he saw and encountered Love, the sinner was transformed into a saint.
How did this happen? It’s simple; Jesus was the Fathers love revealed. Zacchaeus saw his Fathers nature and embraced mercy. And then Zacchaeus saw himself through His Fathers eyes and stepped into grace. And he was transformed.
One evening with perfect love and the sinner, now saint, declared that he would give more than half of what he owned to the poor and return four times what he stole. It was immediate transformation, the miraculous that follows revelation.
Suddenly the sinner who had lived under the reproachful title of thief, the sinner who had lived under the shame of greed, and the sinner who had been unmoved by the condemnation of an entire town was forever changed. One evening with perfect love...
Zacchaeus was living in one reality when he was introduced to a greater revelation – Love.
He encountered Love, saw Himself from Loves perspective, and decided to agree with how Love saw him.
Through mans eyes, Zacchaeus was a self-centered, small-minded, thieving, liar. Through Loves eyes he was a generous, large-hearted believer who was capable of giving more than half of what he owned away. From his heavenly Fathers perspective, Zacchaeus was supernaturally generous; he was prone to love. The moment he realized God saw him as generous he became generous.
This was a miracle as big as blind eyes opening, as cancer leaving. Jesus said this kind of miracle would be akin to a camel crawling through the eye of a needle. A rich man who moments earlier lived his entire life for money, suddenly is transformed into a generous man completely free from the shackles of greed.
It’s not in the nature of a sinner to give like he gave. But it is in the nature of a saint. Saints are generous and have the capacity to give supernaturally.
I am learning that
what I think about me should always be determined by what my heavenly Father thinks about me. I must see myself from my His perspective. And I’m discovering that when I see myself through Gods eyes, I become a saint, capable of all the things that a sinner isn’t.
I would like to suggest that this is how we become world changers. We simply encounter Gods nature and agree with it. We simply experience a revelation of our Fathers love and surrender. If He is generous and He see’s us as generous, then we become generous, and kind, and patient, and merciful and full of grace...
In His perfect love, His mercy and His grace, we are transformed, we are prone to love!