Tag Archives: Zacchaeus

Daunting Existence -More than what’s required

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I have a sordid respect for death. I’m not fond of it and I never find myself doing cartwheels when it happens, but I respect death for what it is: an inevitable life event that is expected. I pine over the unexpected loss of young people and when someone very dear to me passes, but I tend to quickly come to terms with the reality of death’s existence during those times. Death, always brings with it thoughts about life – my life in particular – and what is being done with the little time I have on this earth.

This week my family was faced with the daunting reality of losing two persons. My aunt who was 61 died suddenly from a flesh eating bacteria last Saturday and my 19 year-old cousin (not her daughter) was shot and killed by a stray bullet on Monday night. Three days, two deaths and here I am thinking about life and how I wish never to exist.

Existence to me is dwelling in a space where my life revolves around my family, my home, my job, school at times and paying bills. Existing is working continuously while counting down for the weekend and doing only what is necessary to ensure I’m comfortable. Existing is being caught in a monotonous cycle of doing the same things on different days without realising that my life has no real impact on issues and people outside of my immediate circle. To me, existing means never stepping outside of my comfort zone or becoming involved in projects that would benefit others more than it benefits me. To exist is to live a selfish life only considering one’s own realities and never embracing the possibility of being more than what is required.

That’s not what I want for my life. I wish never to be caught in a daunting cycle of existence, instead my life should be lived. I should travel and gain many experiences away from home. I should do volunteer work and be motivated by factors other than wealth. I should give freely of the knowledge I have and seek to help people become better than I am and achieve more than I have. My life should involve encouraging others and loving people genuinely no matter the cost. My life should be lived!

Every time I think about Christ and the way He lived I marvel at the example He set by moving beyond existing and embracing a life well lived despite the consequences. I love how Jesus developed relationships and cared deeply for people even though he knew His time on earth was limited. I love how He gave all that He had to people whom he knew would turn against Him. It’s fascinating when Lazarus died he was able to connect to those who mourned and cry with them (John 11:1-16and when an adulterous woman was brought before Him how rather than condemning her, he defended her although he knew it would make her accusers angry (John 8:1-11). Or when the little children came to see Him and his disciples were about to turn them away how He made time for them (Matthew 19:13-15) and my favourite of all, how he gave people more than they expected when He was in their presence, as in the case of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10).

It’s not enough to simply exist and do only what is necessary for our existence. We should live and be impactful. Our lives should represent more than a mundane list of necessities where we never give more of our selves than required. We should use some of our free time to mentor and encourage younger people or to sit with the elderly. We should volunteer for community projects and give of our resources to those less fortunate. We should speak up for the oppressed and take time out to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. When we die we should have had a positive impact on the world surrounding us. We all have the potential to do more than what is required, we can each be selfless with our time, and love, and most importantly, our God. Christ’s example was to do more than necessary to positively affect those who came into contact with Him; we should follow His lead. I respect death and when it is time for me to face it I pray that I would not have simply existed but I would have lived and made a positive impact on the world around me.

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Repentance: A Little Man’s Perspective

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I’ve always been intrigued by the story of Zacchaeus. I’m amazed that so many lessons can be learned from 10 bible verses which tell the story of an inquisitive man’s encounter with Christ.

Today I’d like to discuss Zacchaeus’ response to Christ, how his encounter caused a change in his character and God’s ability to exceed our expectations of Him.

The first thing to note in this story is that Zacchaeus had no intention of MEETING Jesus when he climbed in that tree. In verse 3 of Luke 19 it says that

“he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature.”

Put frankly Zacchaeus simply wanted to put a face to the name of a man everyone was talking about, but because he was short and the crowd was thick he had to take what could be deemed as extreme measures to accomplish his goal. When he climbed into that tree on the day that  Jesus was passing he was not expecting to have an encounter with God. He really just thought he had figured out a way to overcome the problem he faced: being too short to see.

That day however, Zacchaeus got more than he bargained for and his encounter with Christ made Him a better man. In the account of this story, the bible tells us that Jesus stood under the tree and acknowledged Zacchaeus by name and then proceeded to go to his home to share a meal with him. Can you imagine Zacchaeus’ surprise when Christ decided to meet with him, a dishonest man, who was hated by many?

The exhilarating part of this story for me is how Zacchaeus responded to being in Christ’s presence. Verse 8 of Luke chapter 19 says

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.”

What we see is that while in God’s presence Zacchaeus not only acknowledged his wrong doings but he also made decisions to do what was necessary to reimburse those persons whom he stole from. Zacchaeus’ response to Christ has within it a clear model of what repentance looks like. Repentance is the acknowledgement of your sin and a decision to no longer do that thing which displeases God. It requires us to confess to God that we were wrong and sometimes it means doing what is necessary to undo some of the hurt we caused through our ungodly actions. Zacchaeus also teaches us that Godly encounters – through prayer, worship, the word of God, prophesies, dreams, visions, etc. – help us to change those things which are displeasing to God while building our character.

In addition to Zacchaeus’ response in this story I can’t help but admire and appreciate God’s ability to meet us at the point of our needs – even when we don’t realise how badly we need Him – and to exceed every possible expectation we have of Him at the same time.

I remember once I prayed and asked God for a new job because I felt stagnant in the one I had at the moment. Mere weeks after talking to God about it I got an answer to my prayer in the most unexpected way. God did not give me a new job. Instead, he allowed the managing director of the company I worked for to see my potential for a position I was not qualified for and because of that, I was transferred to another department and promoted. The ironic thing is, I wasn’t only unqualified but I was the youngest and most recent addition to the staff. Most of my colleagues could not understand the decision made by my manager but I knew it was God’s way of exceeding my expectations of him. Needless to say I went on to be very successful at that job and before I resigned I was responsible for spearheading major developmental projects for the company.

I guess what I’m getting at ideally, is the fact that it is possible to encounter God and see a change in our lives and circumstances because of that encounter. It is possible to experience the power of God to influence change in us and to see ourselves move from a place of sin to a place of repentance and restoration in Christ. Like Zacchaeus, we may not be expecting a life changing encounter with God but once we have a desire or an expectation of Him, He can meet and exceed all that we desire.

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