Friday, November 30, 2012

Surely not him!

Some Christian brothers and I were discussing the story of Zaccheus from Luke 19 the other day, and something came to my mind that I had never considered.

When most church-raised Christians think about Zaccheus, they almost immediately start head-singing a song about him being “a wee little man, a wee little man was he”. He was indeed a short man, but he was also a publican. That is to say, he was a tax collector for the Romans. That meant that he was shunned and despised by almost everyone.

Of course, there were those that were more than just unfriendly to the publicans. They hated anything Roman, but absolutely and totally hated anyone that was working with the Roman occupiers. This group was known as the Zealots. The Zealots known as Judas the Galilean and Zadok the Priest actively opposed the Jewish census ordered by Cyrenius (or Quirinius). The Zealots were the ones who barricaded themselves in the mountaintop fortress of Masada in AD 73 and ultimately killed each other instead of allowing themselves to be captured by the Romans.

Of course, the most famous of the Zealots was a man named Simon. Referred to in the Bible as “Simon the Zealot” to keep him from being confused with Simon Peter. That is, to keep one apostle of Jesus Christ from being confused with another disciple of Jesus Christ.

Scripture doesn’t mention the disciples in this passage, but as this scene takes place almost immediately before Jesus enters Jerusalem for the Passion, it is doubtful that any of them were missing.

Imagine Simon the Zealot’s reaction to seeing Jesus talk to another publican. As a man, I do not doubt that he would wish to drive Zaccheus from Israel entirely, if not just kill him where he stood. But Jesus showed Simon the Zealot through publicans what He showed Simon Peter through a vision: no one is too sinful or too unclean to hear the Gospel or to respond and be saved.

Most importantly, it is not our duty, nor our right, to decide to whom we should and should not interact, relate and witness. It doesn't matter if they are a leftist, liberal, progressive, pro-abortionist, socialist, atheist, whatever, they can be convicted by the Holy Spirit of their sin and be led to repentance.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A double minded man

Like a lot of Americans, I was very passionate about the 2012 presidential election. Even trying to frame this post, I have to fight myself from listing the topics and reasons that I chose my candidate and why I did not choose the other candidate. I read multitudes of articles. I followed the posts of political pundits on Facebook and Twitter. I read and re-posted dozens of memes on Facebook. I engaged in political humor, sarcasm and caricature. Several of my online friends were for the “other guy”, and we frequently crossed foils about the issues, media coverage, and the candidates.

I would vent to my bride about how hard-headed some of them were, and about how infuriating it was trying to convince them that they were wrong. To which, she quietly said, “Honey, did God call you to convince people on Facebook about politics?” WHUFF! (That was the sound of the Holy Spirit knocking the wind out of my sails.)

Politics is important. But it’s never going to be more important than honoring Christ and sharing the Gospel. So if I can’t do both, politics has to be the thing to go.

Some might think that this no longer relevant, as the election is over. However, I have to disagree. The nation is actually fairly evenly split about our political direction. And we are more polarized now than ever. If the right makes it through the next four years and win the White House, the left will be just upset as we are right now.

I pray that I never shy away from speaking Truth. But it must be spoken in love, not anger. The focus must be on pointing to Jesus as the reason for my beliefs. And if a person disagrees, I must choose to love them and respect them. THEN, I'm not being double-minded.