For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Valuable Enough to be Found

In our Bible study class this week we are looking at the story of Zacchaeus.

Here is the story for those who don't know it.

Luke 19
Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him,[a] and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.”
Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

I've read this story since I was a little kid. I can still sing the song. I know this story. It's not complicated. Jesus, who has become THE celebrity is coming into town, and this short tax collector who is shunned by everyone and hated because he is a tax collector climbs a tree to see Jesus. Jesus walks right up to the tree and tells Zacchaeus to come down because He plans to have dinner with him that night. The short legal thief does what he is told. Jesus goes home with him, and Zacchaeus proclaims that he is giving away a bunch of money as a result. Jesus declares salvation to Zacchaeus as a result.

Simple story. Except it is so simple it gets tripped over.

I was taught that Zaccharus gets granted salvation because he proved his sincerity to Christ. No. If Jesus only declared Zacchaeus saved because he gave away money to prove his sincerity, then that would be earning his salvation. That isn't how Christ works. And honestly, that kind of sensationalism isn't going to last because that is based on the euphoria of the moment. Jesus would have known Zacchaeus' heart and would never have declared salvation to a dram king. So something else had to have happened.

The key isn't what Zacchaeus did. It's why he did it.

See, there is this tax collector who has economic power. He can add fees to the taxes collected. He can be cruel in the ways he enforces tax collection. He can be as ruthless and heartless as they come, and for some people, that power defines them. It means they are valuable. They are valuable because of the power over people, and they are valuable because of the money they can make from it. This guy has position, power, and money...and no real life. The Romans don't care for him. He is only a pion. The Jews hate him. And where does that really leave him? Up in a tree...with only the hope of a glimpse of true celebrity because there is no way a religious celebrity was going to pay any attention to him.

Except He did.

Can you imagine being Zacchaeus up in that tree searching for just the head of the celebrity you are waiting for when you see this massive crowded moving in some way as those it is water crashing upon the bottom of the tree where you are, and suddenly, there at the base of the tree a face looks up at you. THE face looks up at you and says, "Hey, come down and let's go have dinner at your place."

In other words, "I've come to this point just to see you, and I know no one else would be caught dead in your presence or in your house unless they need something from you, but I've come because you need something from Me."

What Jesus was really saying, "You are valuable to me. In fact, you are so valuable to me, I'll risk being a celebrity and being on the front page of every gossip magazine just to be with you."

I don't think Zacchaeus responded by saying, "Lord, look! I'm so different that I'm going to do all this good stuff. Aren't you impressed?" I don't think it was a haughty man who spoke to Jesus. I think it was a humbled one who said, "Lord, Lord, I get it. I give half of everything I own to people who need it because they are valuable. I will make recompense for how I have cheated people because relationship is more important than gold. I get that I'm valuable, not because of what I own, but because of You. I'm valuable because You chose me."

And did you notice that Zacchaeus wasn't offended when Jesus said He had come to seek and save the lost? A proud person would look at themselves and be sorry they had to be found or saved, and honestly, I don't think they would be saved because they are not humble to receive the truth that they cannot fix themselves. However, when a person realizes their only value is in the value placed on them by Christ, they realize that being sought and found is a declaration of value. It is a clear demonstration of how loved they are.

God so loved--so valued--the world that He gave His only Son that whoever should believe in Him--not their own ability to be good or holy--should not perish but have everlasting life.

When Zacchaeus climbed that tree, maybe he was looking for a celebrity. Maybe he was looking for someone bigger than himself. What he found was just how important he was, and that had nothing to do with money and position, and everything to do with Jesus.

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