The bliss of ignorance in a world of pots projecting and kettles kvetching.

This is a reboot of the conversation on faith that wrestles. The first post is here.

Projection is as much a part of being human as breathing. We all do it, since we cannot help viewing things through the lens of our experiences. However, as we grow up, and particularly as we grow spiritually the desire, followed by the skill to temper that impulse, should grow as well.

This culture however, offers us every opportunity to spend our entire lives projecting our issues onto other people, judging, and engaging in smug, self-righteous finger pointing while neglecting to confront sin in our own lives. The Internet exacerbates this tendency for obvious reasons. I don’t want to park here yet, although I will return to this point. When our older girls were young I told them often:

“Respect others’ right to be different from you.”

General principles of right and wrong are one thing. Expecting that to translate into the same look for others as it does for you means you’ve overstepped your boundaries. To the extent that you need to pick someone apart over the insignificant, it reveals discomfort with yourself, your choices, and your life, regardless of claims to the contrary..

With our younger children I find a different lesson emerging more often and it’s very helpful that it can be quoted verbatim from the pages of Scripture. Paul admonishes those who judge others for the very things that they themselves do:

in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.  And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things.  But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?

To use a well known colloquialism: The pot calling the kettle black may annoy me, but more than that, it annoys God.

I also recently reminded them how strongly God hates our complaining, using Numbers 21 as an example. We err when we presume upon the grace we have been freely given and use it as an excuse to live a life without intention, ignoring the “minute” sins we engage in daily. Sins which we condemn in others and yet excuse in ourselves. Everywhere you look, listen and read, our culture is full of this. Complaining is the most ubiquitous.

Women complain about men complaining about women. Men complain about women who complain about men. Whites complain about blacks who complain about whites while both complain about Hispanics. Democrats complain about Republicans complaining about Democrats. Communists and Alternative Righters complain about them both. News articles and programs are speculation masquerading as facts. OpEds are mistaken for news, and we are constantly invited to point and stare at personal train wrecks made news which in years’ past we were able to live blissfully unaware.

Whole forums and platforms are chiefly dedicated to picking apart and condemning others for their views, lifestyles and choices. On and on they go. The most ironic and catchy title is one called ‘Get Off My Internets.” Christians, who should know better, have increasingly joined the fray.

I’ve made a pretty big push over the last couple of months to eliminate these kinds of things from my life, but as I noted before, old habits die hard, and it’s very hard to un-know something once you know it. None of this is to say that it is wrong to commiserate online or offer commentary on controversial topics. I have no intention of fully withdrawing.

It is, however, becoming increasingly obvious to me how much happier are the people who live blissfully ignorant; not only of news which they can do nothing about, but without a care in the world with regard to anyone but Christ’s opinion -along with those they are truly accountable to- about what they do, what they think, and how or whether they express it.

It’s one thing to understand clearly and without wavering that stealing is wrong, that lying is wrong, that divorce is bad, or that murder is evil. It’s also wise to be willing to acknowledge that not all choices are equal regardless of circumstance. These are things that we should encourage one another in so that we all come to a fuller measure of faith. Too often however, we use the worldly maxim “public knowledge means fair game” to allow ourselves a wide berth in condemning others without ever once stopping to consider how we might feel if we were in their shoes.

All of this points to something we neglect to consider. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so too do our spirits. Absent the spiritual sustenance we need to think on the Beautiful, the intellectual stimulation we need to think on the True, and physical challenge required to keep us actively productive, we’re left with nothing more than spiritual death, mental junk, and physical atrophy.

This approach to life outside of eternal matters and minding our own business is greatly underrated:

don't know don't care

 

The paradox of faith that wrestles.

I’m gonna keep this short and sweet because I’m probably going to unfold it over several conversations over several weeks. It’ll be interspersed between lighter subjects, but it’s something I am curious if other believers think about.

I’ve never been able to relate to people with no tension in their Christian faith. People who somehow walk in the certainty that they are doing Christianity right leave me incredulous (stay with me because I understand that we don’t *do* Christianity). Despite the fact that I have spent the lion’s share of my adult life -including my young adult life- living what most anyone would declare the “good Christian life” of a “good wife and mother”, the comfort of having seemed to do a few things right eludes me.

This is primarily due to an intimate knowledge of the inner working of my mind and the struggle Paul writes about so eloquently in Romans 7 and Galatians 5.

It is largely understood that the former passage of Scripture denotes a season of the journey that everyone must go through. We should surely graduate from the place of doing the things we hate. Most of us do, and I have as well. It’s a mark of maturity to rise above how we feel and do the things we should even when we don’t want to and to avoid the things that would satisfy our darkest desires simply because they are wrong. Since we live in a culture where people reduce everything to one subject, I’ll offer an example in line with what I am thinking of.

Transplanted Floridians are the worst drivers and traffic down here is absolutely terrible at all hours except those between 10 AM and 2PM. That’s only true if there’s no construction, and there is always construction.

When you live with a schedule in your head like I do (24 years of loving a spontaneous guy has NOT tempered the tendency), it’s a short leap from a tolerable drive to one where I want to 1) curse, 2) zip by someone and give them a dirty look or worse and 3) just flip out and start yelling. I know these things are wrong, so I don’t do them, but I want to. I want to several times a week.

There are those Christians who would say, ‘Well, you don’t do it so that’s good enough.”

There are others who would say, “You should be beyond such the temptation to temperamental reactions to something so mundane after more than 2 decades of walking in the Faith. You’re still a baby Christian.”

My thoughts hang somewhere in between the two of those places.

I don’t have much use for Christians who are so spiritual that they are no longer tempted to anything. I once heard a preacher refer to them as being so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.

On the other, I wonder how good of a Christian could I possibly be if I think such thoughts in the first place.

I could go on but this road is windy, so I’m gonna park and rest for the night.

Tending my own garden curbs the desire to tend others’.

I’ve thought a great deal about our culture’s tendency to formalize things which best happen organically. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be intentional about the way we live, nor that formalization has no purpose (the Bible clearly references the need for corporate worship, for instance). However in the absence of familial and social infrastructures, we seem to have determined that the only way to insure certain things are done is to do them in a formal capacity.

Play dates. Bible studies.  Marriage conferences. Mommy and me classes.Titus 2 mentoring blogs, books and websites. Exercise classes. I could probably list at least twenty more with very little mental exertion, but I think you follow. I am not saying that these things in and of themselves are bad things. I do some of them myself as this is the postmodern way of life. Without them, many of us would never connect with anyone. However the proliferation of formal connections at the expense of organic connections is bad, especially since they don’t seem to be doing much to make life better on the main.

They speak to our inability or unwillingness to do the work required to achieve the ends these things are designed to produce: greater community, real and deep friendships, and most important, the accountability needed to motivate us to do the right things as we are inspired by these connections. Formalization makes it easier to disconnect from people. Heart connections don’t allow this as easily because when we love someone or something, it’s harder to drop them and walk off. Our practice today is to be just close enough for social connections but distant enough to be unencumbered.

These equidistant relations makes it easy for us to feign duty to others -by way of self-proclaimed authority- with little knowledge or appreciation of the fallout. It is this danger which gives me pause about being so quick to offer prescriptions for someone else’s life. Bible quotes sans relationship can give the erroneous impression that I got my spit together through stellar obedience when in reality my life is what it is due to heaping amounts of Grace, no small amount of good fortune, and the love and protection of excellent men. It’s easier to offer my thoughts when asked,  be succinct, and get back to minding my own affairs unless I’m dealing with people who know me well enough to filter what I say through the lens of knowing me up close and personal. And to whom I am close enough that I don’t disrespect her heart or trials with pat answers.

Despite every earnest attempt to walk out my “mind my own business” approach to life and family, we frequently find ourselves in situations where it feels like I should say something rather than nothing. I am sorely tempted to call every married woman I know and ask, “Please tell me you regularly find yourself in a position to share your philosophy on marriage! This I am told, is NOT normal and I would rather not live in the Twilight Zone if I can help it.” One told me”it must be God” and that’s not what I really want to hear.

Even more puzzling is that these opportunities present with people I barely know or don’t know at all. I pray thus: “Lord, when these things happen, give me the words to say that are most appropriate and will bear the most fruit.”

Benevolent Dictator takes these things, as he does most things, in stride but  I find my apprehension rising when they occur. I frequently wonder, “What is is about us in particular, that people feel comfortable approaching us with such statements and questions, even in jest?” Case in point:

We are doing some decorative updates to our home since we haven’t done that in a while. We went to one of the big box stores over the weekend to buy paint. I’ll spare you the back story but when I am picking out paints it is very helpful to have the Dictator around. I tend to look at the big picture and miss the details. He sees the details in relation to the big picture. To that end, he was asking me (ever so politely) to consider certain aspects of our house, walls, lighting, etc. as I was choosing the color.

We were having a good time, laughing with the paint guy about something, as my husband is usually having a good time no matter what he’s doing.  Another couple, about a decade older than us, walked by. The wife stopped and told my husband, “No matter what she chooses, just tell her she’s right and everything will be fine.” Her husband concurred in a less jovial manner, to which my husband laughed and replied, “We don’t really do it that way but thanks.” That should have been it.

But the other husband continued,  adding that as my husband gets older (he seemed to think we were younger than we are), he’ll find out this is “how the game is played”. [Sigh.] “Nah, we don’t play that game”, my husband replied. [omg what is happening here!!??] The man persisted, “You may say you don’t play it, but you play it.” [sigh]  I should say something.

Finally, I said, “No, we’ve been married a long time and we really don’t do it like that. I don’t need that kind of pressure in my life, to always be right? I gladly let him have it.”

The wife looked as if she had heard something revolutionary and you could almost see the light bulb come on. The whole thing lasted about a minute, and unless life causes our paths to cross, I will probably never see that woman again, but I know I unwittingly planted a seed that will hopefully grow into food for thought. Which brings me to the point of this winding road of commentary.

I contemplate what it is I’m doing here in this space, what the end game is. I am loathe to declare it a teaching tool. I feel deeply that mentoring is best done in the flesh and I invite anyone who reads here to try and make that your reality. When I sit down or stand at my counter top and start typing, I am more interested in a conversation with other people (particularly women) of like faith about myriad thoughts that I may not get to hash out with a real life friend over coffee for two weeks or a month.

I want my girls to be able to come back here and contemplate the lessons we’ve gone over together and the conversations we’ve had that have touched on all of those subjects at some point.  To the extent that something I jot down here helps someone figure out some tangle of thoughts and emotions they are dealing with, I am eternally grateful. But these are seeds of thought, not pills offered as prescription.

It would be all super spiritual of me use a Bible quote if I were going to end with a quote at all, but I like this one, which I think applies to the faith journey as much as any other:

Perhaps the secret to living well is not in having all the answers, but in pursuing unanswerable questions in good company.

A little, or even nothing, goes a long way.

The subject of language has been front and center in my mind of late. In part because of its continual decimation due to the ever shifting meaning of words and phrases for the purpose of political posturing, but also because we tend to utter words without proper forethought. Silence can reveal -or at least leave room for- assumption of knowledge. It’s an opportunity few of us take advantage as Proverbs invites:

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.Proverbs 17:28

The type of speech we engage, or don’t engage in, speaks volumes. It draws questions without any faith identification. I spend most of my social and outside interaction with other home schooling mothers. The variety of people my family is exposed to, however, is one I haven’t experienced consistently since our children finished elementary school several years ago.

Two years ago for example, my husband spent a year working at a large company overseeing the transition of some of the internal workings of their system. During that time, he developed a rapport with a young man there. The young man never expressed any religious belief, and my husband never engaged in any sort of faith based dialog with him.

Near the end of his contract there, the man asked my husband to do something that startled him. He had a girlfriend and a young baby. He figured it was time to make it official so he asked my husband if he would be willing to marry them. They could do it right in the cafeteria of the office building over lunch, since they weren’t interested in any kind of big wedding event.  He assumed my husband was a minister of some sort. As an Asian man raised without any religious tradition, he didn’t know what sort of clergy my husband might have been and I don’t know that he cared. He simply respected him, and wanted his blessing on their union.

My husband’s first question was why this young man assumed he was a minister. There isn’t anything noteworthy about my husband which indicates minister, or even typical church guy. The response was telling: “It wasn’t anything you said. It was what you didn’t say. You’ve been hear nearly a year, and I never heard you curse.”

Our daughters have had a similar experience on their jobs. Usually after about 3 months, someone notes that they never hear them use a curse word. Apparently, unlike when I was a child, profanity is like a tattoo. You don’t stand out if you do it. You stand out if you don’t.

I find this interesting because none of us flinches, winces, or gets offended when anyone uses profanity in our presence, and we don’t assume that people who do so are necessarily  irreligious or bad Christians. It’s basically a holdover from how each of us were raised. My husband’s father wasn’t a saint, nor would he ever be mistaken for one. He just didn’t curse. Neither did my parents. We just sort of picked that up, as did several (though not all) of our siblings.

Profanity is an example I used here because it recently came up in our conversations about language, but it’s just one example among many. I am keenly aware of the issues that can come from mistaking propriety for piety. It’s one the thing I loathe most about certain strains of American Evangelicalism. But there is a lesson to be learned here about the importance of keeping a lid on it.

It really is possible to get through an election season without getting into a debate with your family members whose political opinions are different from your own. It’s possible to inspire or motivate others in areas where you may have been especially graced or worked hard to overcome without preaching to everyone you know or beating them over the head with your hard won knowledge.

People naturally tend to ask questions of those they see succeeding or accomplishing at the things with which they struggle. They almost always solicit the prayers of the least vocal but straightest walking believers they know. We don’t need to be nearly as vocal as many seem to think in order for others to glean from the wealth of knowledge and wisdom we presume we have acquired. Most of all, we can all save ourselves a lot of trouble if we would learn to be quiet:

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.Proverbs 21:23

I think about this often in the rough and tumble world of Internet communication, where people feel not only compelled but entitled to say whatever pops into their head with as much veracity and acidity as they can muster to get their points across. There also the saccharine treatise laced with contempt, and veiled in passive aggressive attacks. After a while the stealth sweetness is lost and the malice seeps through. Whatever the tactic, it’s the opposite of this:

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24.

Using the logic of if this, then that, it is safe to conclude that: rude speech is like wormwood, bitter to the soul and sickness to the body.

I think I’ve said enough, so I’ll stop right here.

Adam’s father was perfect, and yet…

It is characteristic of American culture, and increasingly by extension American Christianity, to view life and temporal prosperity in it as accomplished through the successful execution of specific formulas. While there are certain areas of life where formulas produce success, for most people this is usually most readily seen in areas where we are dependent more on the immutable laws of nature.If you burn more calories than you eat for a long enough period of time, you lose weight. If you get enough sleep for enough nights you tend to be less fatigued. Some formulas work.

When human nature is added to the mix, however, the wheels can fall off no matter how well we execute the formulas we believe will produce a spiritually superior church, happy marriage, or well behaved children.

Most Christians have reduced the Bible to a formulaic rule book. If you’re not prosperous, you haven’t worked hard enough. If you don’t have a blissful marriage, you weren’t a submissive enough wife, or you didn’t lead well enough as a husband. If your children are not walking in truth (in ways that compel others to compliment you on the way they turned out), you didn’t “do” Proverbs 22:6. If you did, you didn’t do well enough or consistently enough to produce the right results.

There seems to be a total disconnect from the reality that God has given husbands, wives, and children all the same opportunity he gave each of us; the choice to choose the right way and walk in it or not. We thrive on the belief that when things turn out well, we can take some credit for it. We are very careful to give proper lip service to God for His word and its formula that we followed so well, but we cannot resist the urge to determine that what has gone well in our lives is because of our innate goodness or execution of the formulas. In other words, God couldn’t have done it without us.

Where parenthood is concerned, even as someone whose children are regularly commended, I have always felt sub-par. All of our children’s best character traits are easily recognizable as having come from their father, or as gifts from God that they seemed to have come with standard. All their worst traits? Those seem most easily recognized as having come from their mother.

As a wife, however, wallowing in haughtiness comes easy to me. I *get* how to be a good wife, or at least that’s how I used to view my wifely tenure; as perfect execution of the Biblical formula to be the perfect wife.  See? I recognize the tendency. None of us is immune. The trick is being willing to recognize it and shut it down.

None of this is to say that what we do doesn’t matter, or that there aren’t directions on how to live given us in the Bible. Of course we are supposed to study and obey. This is to say however, that when we think that we have the power to direct how others act or turn out, we have gone far afield of the message of Scripture.

Enter this message from Voddie Baucham which I listened to over the weekend. Twice in fact, because it’s that good. Bro. Baucham reminds us that we are all just sinners in need of redemption and that whatever good we do, if it’s not done to the glory of God, or we are tempted to take any credit for it, we are back to square one. Square one is our need for redemption because the minute we say, “I did X and my children turned out God fearing, obedient people as a result” or “I did A, so my marriage is the best one I know of bar none” we are guilty of the sin of pride. Time to confess. Back to the cross we go.

One of the best parts of his talk is indicated by the title of this post. If there were anyone who was graced with perfect everything (parenting, surroundings, companionship of the Lord Himself), it was Adam and Eve.

And yet…

Listen to the sermon here.

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.

Seeking truth versus pretending to seek it.

Yesterday, I posted a link to a passage of Scripture that even most nominal Christians are very familiar with. We know it so well, that it is easy to miss the subtexts, deeper truths, and present day implication to those us claiming to seek truth in a world where the majority of people blissfully live with willful blindness.

Generally speaking, I cringe at the tendency of many modern day believers to look metaphorically at Scripture where there are not metaphorical implications, and it’s something we should all be careful about. However, when you do a little research and background study into the culture, circumstances, and characters in any given Biblical occurrence, things come into focus that we would be hard pressed to dismiss as something the Writer didn’t expect any serious student of the Bible to notice.

When you’ve spent your life, from diapers to Depends in a church, certain Scriptural narratives lose their punch. That is, they do unless you or someone else helps you remember to never stop looking and praying for the thing you need to learn today from the passage, rather than resting on the laurels of what you think you know. for example, the story of Zacchaeus climbing the sycamore tree to get a look at Jesus. Even one of our children, after taking the time to ruminate on the incident yesterday, admitted that for a bit, she had to disconnect her mind from this as her primary way of processing the story:

I spent a fair amount of time yesterday simply looking up information on the status, reputation, and life of a man in Zacchaeus’ position during the time in which he encountered Jesus.

The text is clear on the fact that Zaachaeus was a chief tax collector for the Roman Empire in Jehrico, which at the time was ruled by Herod, the governor placed their by the Roman government. One of the places I found as I did research described Zacchaeus’ position:

Zacchaeus was “the chief among the publicans” (Luke 19:2, KJV) – “a chief tax collector” (NKJV). This doesn’t just mean that Zacchaeus was that hated man from the Internal Revenue Service. It was far worse than that. In Israel, the tax collectors were viewed as traitors and thieves.

Why was that? The publicans in Israel collected the taxes for the hated Roman Empire, the empire of the Caesars who ruled Palestine at the time. Publicans were Jews who bought tax collection franchises from the Roman government. Any amount that they collected over and above what Rome required, they could keep for themselves. So if you really owed the Roman government a thousand dollars, the publican might tell you that you owed fifteen hundred. And so the publican would send the thousand you really owed on to the Roman government, and keep the extra five hundred for himself.

In this way many publicans became wealthy at the expense of their own people. They gained their income by treachery and theft. In Luke 3:8, when some of the publicans came to John to be baptized and asked him what they should do as a matter of repentance, he said, “Collect only the amount of taxes that you are supposed to.” And when Zacchaeus came to faith in Christ, he restored fourfold that which he had collected falsely (Luke 19:8).

Zacchaeus would have been the most hated of this hated profession, because he was the chief tax collector. To put it in modern terms, tax collection in Israel was sort of a cross between a pyramid scheme and a protection racket. As the chief tax collector, Zacchaeus had other tax collectors working for him. As those men collected money for the Roman government, they would take a cut off the top for themselves. The men who worked for Zacchaeus would also have to pay Zacchaeus a part of the money that they cheated out of the people, in addition to the dishonest money that Zacchaeus collected directly from the people himself.

In other words, this was a guy who was hated, feared, and very rich. Such men are usually fairly full of themselves, although that’s is purely my assumption rather than anything inferred from the text. However, with this understanding of Zacchaeus in mind, picture him running ahead of the crowd -who blocked his view of Jesus- climbing up a sycamore tree for perchance even a glimpse of the truth.

Consider further his response when he was blessed to see Jesus, and experience a glancing gaze at God in the flesh:

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.”

Now, contrast him with the rich young ruler whose encounter with Jesus can be found in Luke 18:

 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. 2 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ”[a]

 And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”

 So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.

Zacchaeus was looking for the Truth, and when he found it, he was willing to give up everything in exchange for it. The rich young ruler was interested in talking about the “truth”. Or at least, his understanding of it, since he was quite smug and sure that there was nothing about him or who he was that needed to change. All he wanted was for Jesus to pat him on the back and confirm what he already believed about himself. Namely, that he had met the requirements for eternal life. As a result, when the Truth was presented, he rejected it outright, because in reality, it was not what he was after.

This is getting a little long, so for now, I’ll leave you with this other tidbit I discovered yesterday during my research into this remarkable story:

Zacchaeus’ name: In Hebrew it is translated:

Clean or pure one.