Jesus Always Picks the Wrong Guy

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Following Jesus can be a treacherous path of trying to change the world, as we see it,  and running straight into the truth that we are, indeed, the one with the problem.  We need deliverance from:

… our belief that it is up to us to change people.

… our judgmental and legalistic ways.

Think about this:

In the beginning of Luke 19 – the story of the tax-collector Zacchaeus.

(Raise your hand if you just started to sing “Zaccheaus was a wee little man, a wee little man, a wee little man was he!”)

005-zacchaeus  Jesus is in Jericho and a crowd has gathered. The crooked tax collector Zaccheaus was there. He can’t see over the crowd so he climbs up a tree to see Jesus. In the middle of that crowd – which likely would have included more than a fair share of holy or influential or important or preferred or religious people – Jesus heads right for that tree and calls out to that guy – the one who is a social and religious outcast, ridiculously perched up in the branches –  to come on down because Jesus wants to go to that guy’s house for supper.

Huh?   How do I explain that to my religious friends?

I mean, honestly.

Jesus always picks the wrong guy.

Pharisee  Of course, everyone in the crowd gets quite indignant, muttering among themselves about how Jesus is now the guest of a sinner. Not only did the guy betray his religion, Zacchaeus has betrayed his people, his nation, colluding with the powers that be for his own gain and oppressing the very people who were supposed to be his people. 

Or how about the story of the town harlot of Samaria?   The infamous, Woman at the Well”?  (John 4:1-42)  The longest conversation recorded of Jesus and one person was with this woman who had 5 husbands, and was with a guy she wasn’t married too when Jesus approached her. 

womanatthewellbylizlemonswindle  There is our Jesus, sitting by a well…in forbidden Samaria.

Does anyone else see the humor in this story?

The town slut, (or Ho, Hussy, Loose, Sinner, etc. (as she would be called today) approaches Him.

What?

Isn’t she hopeless and an embarrassment? And openly living in sin, (deep breath)!

 Plus, Jesus, as a Jew, was not even supposed to be in Samaria, let alone talk to a woman, for heaven’s sake!!

That woman!!

309148_275390375904036_1522969089_nWe hate that woman!  Don’t we?  We can’t be seen talking to her.

Isn’t that breaking the rules?

Imagine if Jesus was in our world right now in the flesh,  and he heads right over to someone who cooperated with and benefitted from oppression of innocent people, someone who had traded integrity for political power, someone we distrust, someone who we feel is dangerous, someone who stole from people in a socially acceptable and governmentally blessed way, someone who took the very religious or national identity that we cherished and basically stomped all over it for his own gain.    

I can think of a few already, but I won’t mention names.

Ugh. We hate that guy.

   Don’t we?   I mean aren’t we supposed to keep ourselves clean by dissing those who are not living up to our standards as we interpret them?

Would we be murmuring and complaining and wondering about this Teacher who apparently had missed the important parts of the very Law he claims to teach.

Never mind He really came to fulfill the law Himself.

We don’t hang around with people like that, Jesus.  (Insert whine)

Don’t you know? Good people wouldn’t be caught dead with a man like that.

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Just like we don’t hang around with women who are caught in the act of adultery, or fornication, and….

  • we don’t hang around with Samaritans,

  • we don’t hang around with powerless children,

  • we don’t hang around with women who have a bad reputation,

  • we don’t hang around with beggars or the poor or the oppressed or the criminal or the possessed or the socially marginalized or the ones who aren’t allowed to come to church with the good religious people, never!  homelessman1

Get it together, Jesus.

And, hey, news flash, we certainly don’t go to the personal home of a corrupt politician for a bite to eat or the apartment of the town prostitute for a cup of tea.

But Jesus does it anyway.

Jesus seems not to care about our who-is-in and who-is-out line in the sand. He doesn’t seem to care about what we think about all the wrong folks hanging around with him. 

Jesus came to fulfill the Law but while also revealing the Love behind the Law, and the inadequacy of it, he came to replace the real love of a real God for their people. 

Jesus came because God so loved the world.  After all, as Jesus tells Nicodemus in the book of John, it was because God so loved the world that Jesus came to us.

Jesus came, not to condemn the world but to save the world. 

heart-of-stone…including the guy we would rather see condemned, to be honest.

How can we miss this?

Now take note of this fact:  because of an encounter with Jesus, Zaccheaus turns around gives half of everything away. He is so moved by Jesus, he vows to pay back anyone he has cheated four times the amount he stole.

The Samaritan woman? 

Oh, she just became the first woman evangelist telling the whole town about Jesus.

Extravagant repentance.  

Praying

Wild, reckless love for a man who was like no one they ever met.

They both were not just fulfilling the letter of the Law, they were repenting into the heart of Love Himself.

Looks like the presence of Jesus transforms everyone…even those of us who think we have it all together.

The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. 

Zaccheaus was lost, Jesus sought him out, and in this moment of repentance – which was so much more than just money or position – he’s reoriented to the Kingdom of God.   The woman at the well discovered that her bucket could only be filled with Jesus, not a multitude of lost men. 

Now that is something to get excited about!

Think of the word “today” in that passage. Jesus says “Today I must stay at your house” and then later “Today salvation has come to this house.”

The time is now.

We’d rather another day, another house, another time, another kind of sinner.  Don’t bother us with the now. 

But today is the day for the wrong guy…or the wrong woman.

It’s perhaps telling,  where we see ourselves in that story.

talkingwithjesus Are we the crowd, resentful and muttering because we think THAT PERSON shouldn’t be included because they aren’t righteous enough or holy enough or good enough or acceptable enough or just enough?

Do we have a long list of people we’d probably be pretty mad to see Jesus hanging out with in our world? Do we begrudge seeing Jesus head right to a certain house with a certain person? 

Horror of horrors.

We have our sort of people we want to keep out.

Sure, we’re okay with this kind of sinner being included –but not that kind.

jesus6  But over and over, Jesus picks the wrong person in our eyes.

He even picks you, and me!

Or perhaps we see ourselves more in the one who everyone else wants to keep out.

 “Today, today, today, I’m coming to your house.

And all we can do is receive Jesus with such joy and relief.

And our own sin – everything that damages us and damages our relationship with God and damages our relationships with one another – is over!

We stop putting God into a box of our own self righteous rules and let Him do what He came to do..

…love on all of us and see lives transformed.

dixie1    So we turn everything in our lives upside down and inside out to be with Jesus, to be Him extended to everyone…not just those we think won’t contaminate us.

…to cooperate in making all things right, today.

If you would like to find deeper meaning for your life and God’s perfect plan, Life Purpose Coaching is the way to go.  Hop on over to my web site by clicking on Life Coaching at the top of the page to check out the testimonies of countless others who have experienced life changing freedom through this awesome experience.  Contact me for a free short consult to make a decision today.  This is your day of change.   Find out how to break out of old patterns!!!  

 

Do We Really Understand Grace?

 

The-soup-nazi-no-soup-for-you-seinfeldDid you ever watch the Seinfeld episode of the soup Nazi?  It was very funny.  Seinfeld and his buddies would go to lunch at a restaurant that specialized in soup.  If they said one negative thing or complained about the soup in any way, the soup Nazi (the owner) would grab the soup back and tell them in a gruff and rigid voice to get out of his restaurant and then he would say, “ONE YEAR, NO SOUP FOR YOU!!!”  

I always think of that episode when I meet rigid, religious people, who have these set of rules that their friends should live by when it comes to serving God, and would treat them badly if they didn’t toe the line. 

It is like I can hear them saying, “ONE YEAR, NO GRACE FOR YOU!!!! 

Have you met one of these people? 

I call them the Devotional Nazis.  They live by a set of rules and regulations and meetings and laws that they tend to impose on you as a means to draw closer to God.  They look at outward appearances and proclaim the sins of others without looking on their own lives and realize that we all fall short of living up to Pharasitical standards of acceptance.  It saddens me when I see these kinds of people for they struggle and work and presume judgment of others to achieve greatness in the Kingdom of God, when all along Jesus already paid the price for their freedom from those very laws.  They failed to see those rules only were there in the first place to show us we needed a Savior.  We could never measure up without Him. And it saddens me even more how many people their judgments injure and hinder in their growth because they just never measure up. Pharisee

But it is too hard to change for many and too hard to let go of the control and the superiority of being the judge of others in the Body for then they might have to look inward.  The sin in our lives is often just the surface symptom of a deeper level of the heart that the Lord is working on.  So, how can we look on the outward ‘sin’ of others and presume we can judge their condition when God is the only one who can see the heart and the only one who knows how to heal that heart. 309148_275390375904036_1522969089_n

Do we really understand Grace?  

I think grace is an ongoing revelation to our souls as long as we are on this earth with our limited knowledge.   Everything seems conditional in our lives. 

If you love me, then I will love you. 

If you serve me, then I will serve you. 

If we can find the right set of conditions to meet and we do it, our happiness is secured.    What happens though, if we can’t meet our end of the bargain?  Because for every promise of reward there is a promise of punishment in the world we live in.  This is where anger, fear, and insecurity begin to encompass us.

11_06_13_web We are on a merry go round. 

The message is that accomplishment precedes acceptance, and achievement precedes approval.

And around and around we go.

Are you ready to get off the Merry Go Round?

Have you ever met someone who has lived their whole life trying to live up to someone’s conditions for approval and love that was set into motion by a demanding parent?   And they may be 50 years old and still caught in the pattern of spinning their wheels trying to measure up to someone’s expectations.  They have great potential but are never satisfied so they never accomplish a thing, when, unknowingly to them, God had a plan for their life all along.

Merry_go_round We get caught up in perfectionism and we have all sorts of ways to try to justify our actions, but none of those justifications can change the fact that instead of feeling accomplished, we allow impossible burdens to be put on ourselves that ultimately produces exhaustion, bitterness , shame and a general feeling of failure.   It may be all we know and we may even impose our conditions of acceptance on others.  Maybe even our children.

So, in our Christian life many of us see that it was Gods’ plan to send Jesus in our place, so that we are now “in” and on our way to Heaven.  But then we fall back into that way of trying to achieve His acceptance and think it is our blood, sweat and tears that keep us “IN”.  We think that in order for God to love us, we have to change, and be good.  We think that if we want His love we have to earn it.

I thought that for years.    I was very legalistic and thought that the more I worked for the Kingdom, at the expense of my time with my children, the higher I would become with God and the more accepted I would be by Him.  I managed for years to climb that ladder, (I thought) but as most stuffed down emotions always do it all comes to the surface and sort of implodes our lives into disillusionment and confusion and destruction.

joseph-in-the-pitHave you noticed that the people in the bible that we call heroes are not really heroes?  They were mostly all losers at first, before God got a hold of them. Prostitutes, liars, adulterers, thieves, doubters, scornful, etc. etc.    They fall and fail, they make huge mistakes.  They get afraid.  They are selfish, deceptive, egotistical and unreliable.  Actually the bible is one long story of God meeting our rebellion with His rescue, our sin, with His grace, His salvation. They all became great men and women of God but not until they surrendered to God. Just like us!!

The focus of the bible is not the work of the redeemed but the work of the Redeemer!!  It is not about us.  It is about Him.  He came just so we can be free of the demands of the law.

support_groups Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. 

Grace is love coming to you that has nothing to do with you. 

It is being loved and accepted when you are unlovable.

Grace has nothing to do with the loved, but everything to do with the Lover. 

You are the beloved. 

Grace doesn’t make demands it just gives.

Seriously, when you think about it doesn’t it look like Jesus is always giving of Himself, and did you notice, according to today’s church standards, He hung out with the wrong people? 

553486_415888875110718_1880467937_nThere were the prostitutes, the adulterers, the tax collectors and the like.  The worst sinners of Jesus’ day received his most joyful, compassionate welcome and love—because He knew that once they hung out with Him they would change from the inside out.

By nature we resist promises that seem too good to be true.  So we feel so much better and SO MUCH MORE IN CONTROL, when we work for His acceptance and then we can feel like it is about us and how much we earned His favor. 

Then we can give ourselves a pat on the back.

The balance for our lives has been settled already folks.  Jesus has already done it all and we are covered and loved and accepted into His beloved fold. 

All we have to do is receive it…take the gift of Grace into our lives and walk in it.

 But we are uncomfortable because grace turns the tables on us, relieving us of our precious sense of control. 

Jesus came to liberate us from the weight of having to make it on our own, from the demand to measure up, and the obligation to fix ourselves. 

Transparent ChainsBecause He came to set the captives free life does not have to be an exhaustive effort to justify ourselves and validate ourselves. 

Only He can fix us!!  Not our husbands.  Not our children.  Not our friends.  Not even ourselves. 

His Grace reaches out and pulls us to His chest and cradles us in His strong arms of forgiveness and love.

We are already accepted.  It is not about us.  It is about Him.

So, when I recently heard a dear teacher proclaim that the only way to spend quality time with Jesus is getting up at 5 am and spending an hour in the bible, and an hour in prayer,  and then they would develop a better relationship with God, and that it was the only way to achieve relationship with him, I flinched.   sadThat is how I used to be.  I would keep myself to strict standards of rules and points to gain entrance into the higher echelon of spiritual people.   It took many years and humongous trials of loss before I finally gave up the fight for control and just let go. And yes, reading His word is part of it as well as talking to Him in length.  But I love my walks with Jesus and chatting with Him in the car, and enjoying His presence in so many other ways.

When I finally let go of all control it felt like I had lost my faith because I wasn’t doing anything to earn it. 

I had given up.  

It was in that time of distress and loss that Jesus came to me and delivered me of some very real attacks in my life.  I cried out to Him and asked why He had helped me because I had done nothing for Him at all.  I wasn’t going to church, or reading the bible, or ministering at all.  And He whispered to me—

“I love you, Dixie.”  

He taught me that He loved me just as much in my losses and depression as when I was reaching out to others.   It didn’t matter if I ever did another thing for my Lord, He would love me just as much as he did in my destitution and rebellion.

Don’t let people put heavy burdens on you.  Walk in your own integrity and know there is not a set of rules to live by to be accepted into the lap of Jesus.  Your service for Him is born out of Him being your Lover and when you get that close to Him you naturally want to tell others about Him.   Otherwise it is a heavy burden and a constant merry go round of trying to get in his good graces.

Let Him love you regardless of your struggle with wanting to earn that love.  Breathe in His peace!!  freedom