Humility is important, Living with other believers, real living in a virtual world

Are you blocking someone’s view of The Truth?

Image result for Jesus protect me from your followers meme

No doubt, most everyone has seen some variation of this meme. I’ve had occasion to consider it deeply in recent weeks, and not just from the persepctive of the humor it attempts to invoke.

I’m still thinking (and talking, as my family will attest) about Luke chapter 19, and the story of Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector going full on child-like in his pursuit of Jesus. I’m still contrasting him with the rich young ruler whose encounter with Jesus is recorded in Luke chapter 18. It’s a juxtaposition and study that is keeping me occupied.

It’s this preoccupation that draws my mind to the metaphoric ideas to be drawn from the story of Zacchaeus. The Bible tells us plainly that Zacchaeus couldn’t see Jesus when he passed by because he was short compared to the crowd. It’s pretty straightforward but as I noted before, there are parallels to be drawn as we look closer at the reactions of that crowd when Jesus called Zacchaeus to “make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.

The people’s immediate response was that Zacchaeus was a sinner, therefore unworthy to be noticed at all by Jesus, let alone host the Messiah in his house. If not that, then perhaps Jesus wasn’t the Savior and Teacher they thought he was. Something was definitely wrong with this scenario in the minds of the crowd. Zacchaeus certainly was a sinner, and he had no problem admitting the same. However, the swiftness with which the crowd was willing to condemn both Zacchaeus and Jesus clearly indicates that they didn’t view themselves as sinners. Like the rich young ruler in Luke 18, many of them seemed to be under the impression that the law they kept from their youth made them more worthy of the Master’s attention than Zacchaeus.

As I contemplated this, I wondered how many times I had blocked someone in Zacchaeus’ position from seeing the truth of Who Jesus is through my short sighted, self-righteous, limited memory of who I really was (and still am) without the touch of His grace in my own life? Now, multiply that times the numbers of professed Christians in this country who view themselves as moral guardians, lighting the way for the unwashed masses on how to be a good person.

Michael Horton, in his book Christless Christianity, offers a jarring snapshot of what a city ruled by Satan might look like:

What would things look like if Satan really took control of a city? Over a half century ago, Presbyterian minister Donald Grey Barnhouse offered his own scenario in his weekly sermon that was also broadcast nationwide on CBS radio. Barnhouse speculated that if Satan took over Philadelphia, all of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am,” and the churches would be full every Sunday . . . where Christ is not preached.

It is easy to become distracted from Christ as the only hope for sinners. Where everything is measured by our happiness rather than by God’s holiness, the sense of our being sinners becomes secondary, if not offensive. If we are good people who have lost our way but with the proper instructions and motivation can become a better person, we need only a life coach, not a redeemer. We can still give our assent to a high view of Christ and the centrality of his person and work, but in actual practice we are being distracted from “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). A lot of the things that distract us from Christ these days are even good things. In order to push us offpoint, all that Satan has to do is throw several spiritual fads, moral and political crusades, and other “relevance” operations into our field of vision. Focusing the conversation on us—our desires, needs, feelings, experience, activity, and aspirations—energizes us. At last, now we’re talking about something practical and relevant.

In such a scenario, where the churches are crowded with “good people” who have it so together that they can heap judgment and scorn onto anyone who doesn’t fit the mold or who has ever done anything wrong, how are the Zacchaeus’ of the world supposed to see Jesus?

They can’t, because self-righteous throngs of church people are blocking their view. Heaven forbid, someone stand to say, “I know there is hope and healing for you, because I used to be a hopeless mess and He rescued me from the darkness of my depraved nature! Come, Zacchaeus, you can have the seat next to me.”

With each successive year of my life, I appreciate more and more the words of Jesus:

 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Only a fool thinks he has been forgive “little”, but that’s a topic for another day.

Related: The “Must-Have-Others-Think-Well-of-Me” Cure.


8 thoughts on “Are you blocking someone’s view of The Truth?”

  1. This is a particularly important topic for those of us who were lifelong church kids (and my kids are in that number. It’s so easy to be full of spiritual pride. Now, some of us went astray for a bit and so we do have some *stuff* that we throw ourselves on the mercy seat about because we knew better.

    However, my experience was that for several years, even knowing what I knew about me, it took a Divine revelation fo sorts for me to see the gravity of how dirty my soul was. And so…I make sure my kids *get it*:

    No one is good but the Father


  2. Yes. And quite frankly, one of the main reasons for that is something I am certain you’ve heard me say countless times over the years, but American Christians (well meaning though they may be) are much more concerned with propriety at the expense of piety.

    Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot to be said for an orderly, upright life. But too often many of us put up the front of such a life -to appear to be good Christians- rather than actually living and striving for uprightness because it’s right and to glorify God.

    And when that’s what you’re all about (see Horton’s imaginary town) then it’s easy to look down your noses at or dismiss people who have no reputation to protect.

    No doubt, there are people who really do hate Christianity for its own sake. There is a lot of “you are your own god” propaganda out there. But there are also people who just look at our representatives and decide we’re either, 1) hypocrites 2) snobby or 3) not at all concerned with them as anything other than something to cross of their list of ‘good things’ they did.


  3. Maybe I’m just starting to travel in better circles, but I’m seeing hope in this regard, I am seeing the serious Christians I know (of whatever stripe) get a lot more real about their faith… and become better witnesses in the process.

    One of my perennial questions is – how do we live that upright life, being the best people we can be in the now, while not coming off like we’re perfect or were always at this place of maturity and simultaneously not wearing our former sins on tshirts, since we are, in fact, washed clean?


  4. I think it’s a combination of three things It’s this topic that makes me very grateful for our pastor. I don’t always agree with what he says 100% on every topic, but the fact that he spent a few years in a prison cell BEFORE he ever thought about preaching or seminary gives him heart for sinners and a simultaneous understanding that we can change and be better in Christ without needing to be apologetic about leaving sin behind.

    1) When we encounter people of various walks of life, love them where they are. That is, resist the urge to see them as less than us.

    2) How do we do that without wearing our former sin on our sleeves? Simply by NOT forgetting the grace we have received. 2 Peter 1:5-9 says without certain attributes (only really displayed in our dealing with other humans and among them is mutual affection and perseverance) we demonstrate that we have forgotten that we have been cleansed from our former sins.

    3)Don’t be haughty. One of the things I love about my husband is how when he runs into people he knew when, he doesn’t cringe or judge or treat them any different when they cuss like sailors. He doesn’t hesitate to give them the man hug even if they smell like weed. If he can be any kind of help to them, he does it, while drawing the line at anything that suggests he is gonna go hang out, party or whore monger. he’s done with that and people respect him for that.

    4) This is a big one: Stop talking about people who have never known Christ as if it is reasonable to expect them to behave as if they do. Paul made it very clear that we are to hold our fellow believers to a hard line and standard of accountability, but too often I see believers heap all kinds of cheap grace on professed believers unrepentant sin, and then go on and on about the sinners in the world as if they expect anything better from them.

    In short, we need to stop talking out of both sides of our mouths in order to soothe our refusal to confront the sin in our own lives.


  5. You pose an Interesting question. My follow up question is: Do you know where all Truth lies? By answering that question your readers should get a clearer indication as to what extent they are blocking someone else’s view of The Truth.

    My answer to that question is that all truth abides in the Catholic Church. And the extent to which a person is obstructing entry into that Church, they are obstructing the view of The Truth.


  6. I have a few dear Catholic friends, Roman. We get along quite well, and respect the integrity of each other’s faith in the redemption found in Jesus Christ.

    The Catholic -Protestant thing is not an issue I care to debate, although I can appreciate your fervor.


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