Beauty and the Short Man

Anticipation trickles over the crowd. The little man sits in the tree anxiously awaiting a glimpse at the rumored Messiah. His shins throb from where the bark scraped them clean as he clambered up the sycamore. His excitement shadows the pain.

“There he is!” someone shouts out.

Straining his neck, he finally sees him. The Messiah greets those around him, smiling at their childish joy. Ever so slowly, Jesus makes his way through the crowd. The little man sees him plainly now, just almost below him. Suddenly, Jesus’ gaze locks with his.

“Zacchaeus,” He calls peering up through the branches.

“Uh…. yes, lord?” Sweat begins to bead on Zacchaeus’ forehead. Could this man really be talking to him?

“Come down so that we may speak,” Jesus commands.

Zacchaeus leaps from the lowest branch to stand in front of this man. His heart hammers in his chest.

One of Jesus’ disciples whispers into Jesus’ ear disdain dripping from his words. “This man is a tax collector.”

Jesus’ eyes widen, eyebrows shooting upward. His lips turn downward. 

“Oh, really? Well, I was going to visit you in your house today. However, as you are a, ah hum, tax collector, I think it would tarnish my reputation too much to do so. Perhaps if you cleaned up your act a bit, and really abided by the law, I would associate with you. But as it is, I shall have to move along. Goodness knows that I can’t be seen to too friendly with sinners! Others might think I condone your behaviour! Tata!”

He flips his hand up in finality leaving the stunned short man wiping the dust from his face.

Gotcha, didn’t I? You thought Jesus was going to be so Christlike, and overlook the poor little man’s beastly behavior. Oh, wait. That IS how it happened!

Sadly, however, it is the way the story is very different in America today. Today, Christians are so full of ‘you can’t do that’ that we are entirely undesirable to a world who desires something greater. Our representation of Jesus is SO far off course that He must be slapping his cheeks in shock at our attempts to ‘Be Like Jesus’. He never once said “be like me”; He said “love” and showed us how to do it.

I get that we are supposed to be ‘in the world and not of it’ (not that that phrase is actually IN the Bible). But we can’t even be IN the world if we make Jesus look so undesirable that the world turns away from us. Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save it. His words- not mine. (John 3:17) It is pretty plainly stated, so how is it that we the Church keep missing it? It’s not our job to condemn people and bring them to judgment. It’s our job to love them and by doing so bring them to repentance.

Recently, Christians have made a big stink about Beauty and the Beast because of an entirely overly exaggerated homosexual agenda. Oh my gosh. Really? Of all of the crap coming out of Hollywood, we are going to hammer another nail into the coffin of Christianity because of one insignificant scene at the end of a children’s classic that you need a microscope to catch? That ONE movie out of thousands (all packed full of sin- drunkenness, immorality, lying, cheating, stealing, etc.) has made negative reverberations heard around the country.  Perhaps if that one scene is worth your fighting for a ‘Christian cause’, you ought to stay away from the theatre, movie stores, or Netflix all together else you might be a bit hypocritical. And if you do choose to fight that battle, please don’t stand on a mountain top- or social media- and bash your Bible against people’s foreheads. They rarely like that very much. 

Sorry Zacchaeus. Can’t come to your house today. Too much sin there.

If you must fight a battle, do it like Jesus. The only time we see Him angry enough to take action was not IN the world, but in the church. Let that sink in for you. Jesus became angry not with sinners, but with those who claimed to be followers of God- those who stood in His father’s house making a mockery of it, going directly against the word of God. He didn’t beat non-believers over the head in an attempt to bring them to him. He did, however, spit some serious scripture at the Church when they were in the wrong.

Sure, take a stand when you must. But don’t be obnoxious about it. Don’t reflect a Jesus who never actually walked the earth. If you want to make a difference in this world, take a stand in LOVE. You don’t have to condone someone’s sins just to love them any more than Jesus did.

Eph 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

And you know what the world needs? Paul tells us in Romans that they need God’s goodness to lead them to repentance. The world doesn’t need our condescension and regulations. They need to know that they are loved despite the fact that they do wrong.

“Ah, yes, Zacchaeus.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:1-10)  The REAL end.

 

Men in a World of Boys

Tiny fingers turn white as they press against the heavy glass of the door.
“I do it mysellph.” His voice is full of determination and grit.
Struggling, he pushes, elbows locked forcing the door out of his way.  A lady behind me giggles in amusement at his feeble, full-hearted attempt. Struggling, he finally gets it open pushing it to its max.
Turning, he pushes his back on the door, holding it in place. His big, blue eyes lock on mine.
“Here you go, Mommy.” Using his body as a doorstop, he waits until I walk through then steps away from it.
“Thank you, Asher. You are such a gentleman.” Pride beams across my face.
Nodding his head once, he takes my hand. “Yep. I am.”
We walk hand-in-hand to the car.
Already, not even three years old, my son is innately aware of his duty as a gentleman. He rushes ahead of me to open doors for his mama whenever possible. Part of it is borne out of his obstinate disposition, I’ll admit, but another is that of knowing his place in the world as a man. And as his mama, I endeavor to raise him not only to be a man, but to be a gentleman.
In a world where treating a lady is squashed by ‘women’s rights’ and ‘you have to earn respect’, my son will know that a gentleman opens the door because it’s the considerate, courteous thing to do. Women can fight all day long for equal rights, but at the end of the day, we all appreciate the kindness of a gentleman.
That little gentleman who opens doors for those ladies will also remove his hat when we eat at a restaurant, enter into church, or during the Pledge of Allegiance because it’s a sign of respect. He will not hide his face behind the shade of its bill because I want him to find confidence in who he is, presenting himself before the world as I have raised him to do.
He will say “ma’am” and “sir” not because of the age of whomever he addresses, but because it is courteous. It reflects a respect of people who, regardless of their worthiness of it, will receive it simply because it is proffered. He will respect his elders because it is the right thing to do.
Antiquated as these idea may be, my boy will be set apart in a world full of men. He will be not just a man, but a gentleman demanding respect from others not by words- but by his own actions.