Yesterday, we spent the morning talking about the theme of Justice and how its every Christian’s calling to work to help the oppressed. We were blessed to have Richard Sterns from World Vision share and to have a Justice experience in the Fellowship hall to add to our conversation.
Yesterday, I shared about Zacchaeus’ interaction with Jesus in Luke 19. Zacchaeus was a tax-collector and was probably not well-liked in his culture for it was known that tax collectors tended to help themselves while doing the tax deed for Rome. They were extortioners and thieves, and probably didn’t have many friends.
Jesus saw Zacchaeus and decided that he wanted to spend time with Zacchaeus, which was a bit of a scandalous thing for Jesus to do, the crowd began to “mutter” among themselves,
“He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” (Luke 19:7)
We do not know what was said between Zacchaeus and Jesus, but it must have been profound. Zacchaeus made an stunning vow after their visit:
“Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possession to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” (Luke 19:8)
Jesus responds by saying,
“Today salvation has come to this house.” (Luke 19:10)
Zacchaeus wasn’t just “asking Jesus into his heart,” or seeking to cultivate a private spirituality. Zacchaeus was also looking down below him, recognizing that his habits had crushed others; that he was stepping on others in order to have his way.
Zacchaeus’ vow goes beyond mere “settling;” that would be a one-for-one measurement, not the “four-times” dedication that he made to the poor.
No, Zacchaeus knew that if we was going to be freed from his sins, that he’d do his best to provide for the freedom for as many people as possible, to systemically lift the plight of the poor in his village.
This is important to consider in the pursuit of everyday justice. Some can make the argument that, from the chocolate that we eat to the energy that we expend to the technology that we use, we are making life hard on whole groups of people.
These realities should not paralyze us or cause to to feel the overwhelming guilt that we didn’t know that we needed to carry, but it should require more of us than a despondent shrug or a murmur of “well, I’m only one person, what can I do?”
Kingdom people never settle for these dismissive remarks, but keep our souls trained to continue to follow Christ in the midst of these complex scenarios, to have the optimism and commitment of Zacchaeus who wanted to do all that he could to lift the burdens of others.