A couple of days ago I threw a few scattered thoughts out on Facebook.
“What if God cares more about your heart than your outward actions?
What if He wants to heal your deepest wounds and messes more than He wants your behaviors to change?
What if He wants you to understand yourself…your deep needs and longings and the things that trigger you?
What if He cares about ALL of you, the visible and invisible parts?
What if, instead of expecting you to get your act cleaned up, Jesus wants to sit with you in your mess? Sift through it? Sort it out?
What if He is totally okay with that? What if that brings Him joy?
Would that give you HOPE?
It makes my heart sing!!!
Those words resonated with you. I love when the Holy Spirit is doing the same thing at the same time in more than one of us. 🙂
This is the kind of God our souls long for…and the kind that we are afraid doesn’t exist.
But. He. Does.
There are a lot of Jesus impostors out there, even among Christianity, even in the church. This shouldn’t surprise us. Think about it, the most religious people in Jesus’ day completely missed God walking in the flesh right in front of them. Not only did they miss Him, they hated Him, and eventually had Him killed. Ironic. Religion killed God.
But that death set us free from Religion’s power, and the Real God won!
I’d like to re-introduce you to a man named Zacchaeus.
His profession was traitorous. His character sketchy. He definitely wasn’t a model Jewish citizen. Instead, Zacchaeus had become wealthy by working as a tax collector for the Romans and cheating his fellow Jews out of their money. His behaviors definitely didn’t line up with the Law.
Then one day Jesus was passing through the area and Zacchaeus was curious.
“…he was seeking to see who Jesus was…” Luke 19:3.
There is so much that we could unpack from these words, but the most important thing is that Zacchaeus was seeking… I love that! Fellow seekers, this gives us HOPE. 🙂
Unfortunately Zacchaeus had a height problem. Unable to even catch a glimpse of Jesus, he climbed a tree. Perched at the edge of the road, isolated from the crowd, Zacchaeus was ready for Jesus to pass by.
Jesus was also seeking. He was seeking for a messed up, too short, social traitor and religious outcast. Jesus deliberately stopped by the tree, looked up at Zacchaeus, (smiled I’m sure) and said:
“Zacchaeus, hurry up and come down, for I must stay at your house today” Luke 19:5.
What?? The crowd’s grumbling reaction tells you how crazy this was! Jesus just boldly announced that He is going to intentionally hang out with an obvious sinner.
Jesus doesn’t give Zacchaeus a list of rules to follow. He doesn’t condemn him, or reject him, or tell him to clean up his act. Jesus seeks, notices, affirms, accepts, loves, and demonstrates His desire to build a relationship with Zacchaeus. And something interesting happens.
Face to face with the real God, Zacchaeus falls apart.
“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” Luke 19:8.
Jesus is delighted! Not because of the changed behaviors, not because of the list of right things Zacchaeus is going to do, but because salvation has been accomplished. Zacchaeus’ heart has been won.
“Today salvation has come to this house…For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost” Luke 19:10.
The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. That is amazing news!!
Because that’s me! I’m lost. I need seeking and saving. That’s you too. We are desperately lost, desperately broken, but it’s okay because we are also desperately loved. We are insanely and scandalously adored! Jesus came specifically to seek and save us. He wants all of us, every bit of our broken pieces. He wants to forgive our sin and gently put us back together.
Coming face to face with the real Jesus will change us. But contrary to Religion’s beliefs, change isn’t the goal. The goal is knowing Jesus. Experiencing Him, believing Him, and allowing Him to make us into the very best version of ourselves.
Religion, even Christian religion, is always about behavior, always about control. And religion never gets God right…because it doesn’t understand who He really is.
The real Jesus doesn’t control. He doesn’t motivate us with guilt and shame. He draws us with loving-kindness. He patiently woos us. He seeks and saves the lost. 🙂
Doesn’t that make your heart fill with hope? Explode with love? Jesus is amazing, and mind blowing, and crazy, and I don’t even know what to say! But I’m gonna let Him love me. Will you?