I was thinking about the story of Zacchaeus, yeah I know I seem to do that a lot, and I was struck with a thought about the things Jesus used to do and something I don’t know that he ever did.
You know the deal, short guy in a tree = Jesus inviting himself over for dinner. By the way, I think if you are wearing or have ever worn a WWJD bracelet, you are required to do the same each time you encounter small adults in trees. (Yeah, no kids, ya creepster.)
What Jesus does is invite himself to visit Zacchaeus’ environment. What Jesus doesn’t do is invite Zacchaeus to visit him. He doesn’t invite Zacchaeus to a church service or to even hear him speak. Instead he offers to spend time with the man in an environment in which he would no doubt feel comfortable.
Now if I was playing the role of Jesus here, you could assume I was just wheeling and dealing my way into a free taco salad, which in my mind is what Zacchaeus served. (I mean, it’s a quick dish that when done right can seem pretty fancy. You really can’t go wrong.)
But Jesus wasn’t in it for that.
I think Jesus wanted to meet Zacchaeus on his own turf, so he would feel comfortable and to let him know Jesus had an interest in really getting to know him. Seeing his stuff. Playing with his dog. Looking at his pictures or paintings or whatever he had. All the while sending the subtle message of, “hey, man, I love you.”
Jesus did this a lot. In fact, he did it so much he was criticized by the religious leaders of the day for hanging out in with the sinners in their environment too much. (Luke 15:1-2)
On the flip side, I don’t remember Jesus ever inviting anyone to a service. I don’t remember him ever saying, meet us at such and such location at 7 p.m. And I don’t remember him instructed the disciples to go into the world and put up flyers inviting folks to the next great puppet show/ice cream social service.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying doing that sort of thing is bad. I actually would love to know where that puppet show/ice cream party is at and would likely invite everyone I know to it.
I’m just saying, we spend a lot of time inviting people to visit our environment. What if we spent more time asking if we could visit them and spend time getting to know them in their environment?
Maybe we should go find some folks who aren’t like us and see if they’ll let us get to know them over a taco salad.