Summary: As Christ’s body, we should reflect Christ’s heart. What does that look like?
What’s in a gift? It’s an important question as Valentine’s Day approaches. Guys, are you like me? Do you struggle with what to give your girl for Valentine’s Day? Did you even remember that Valentine’s Day is coming up? Don’t forget. The worst gift you can give your girl is nothing.
A gift contains a message. And as much as I hate Valentine’s Day, I certainly want every chance to tell my wife I LOVE her. But when I give my gift, I want to send the right message. And there are definitely some bad gift ideas.
For example a gift card says, “I don’t know you well enough” or “I was too lazy to look around.” A gym membership says, “I think you could stand to lose some weight.” A self-help book suggests, “I think you have some problems that you need to work out.”
A cookbook suggests, “You could stand to improve in the kitchen.” The $5.99 Wal-Mart Valentines Basket says, “I am cheap”, “I forget Valentine’s Day until the last minute (again)”, or “I don’t really value you that much.”
Those are messages that I hope we do not want to send to the one we love. We want the gift to reflect our heart.
It’s the same way with the church. We continue to build on our series of messages, From Castle to Community. And we have defined what the church is.
And we have established the following ideas over the last several weeks. We have established that….
1. WE are the church and God wants to build something in us and through us that is greater than any building.
2. We are liberated in worship because we are no closer in proximity to God by coming into the building than we are further away from Him when we leave the building (no matter how we feel).
* God living in a building is God in a box that we take out once a week.
* And God in a Sunday box is way to small to handle my weekly cares.
3. It is imperative that we know WHO we are before we can ever establish a plan for what we should be doing. Last week, we defined the church as the body of Christ. People. You and I. The church is a who, not a what. And since we are the body of Christ, with his spiritual DNA, then what we do as the church should refelct who Jesus himself is.
Today’s goal then is to define what the heart of Jesus looks like and how we can reflect it? What was Jesus’ mission?
I want to go to Luke 19:1-10 to explore the answer to this question.
Read Luke 19:1-10
It’s the story of Jesus and man named Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was Jewish by heritage. The story also tells us that he was not just a tax collector, he was a CHIEF tax collector. His job was to collect the funds that were due to the occupying nation of Rome. Zacchaeus is in the employ of Rome. Zacchaeus was working for the Gentile occupiers of Israel. That would have been a good enough reason for any Jew to avoid him.
Add to the fact that tax collecting was a job with a bad reputation. Tax collectors were known for extorting extra funds and lining their own pockets. And they could because they had the might of Rome to protect them. The Italian mafia was alive and well in the first century. And Zacchaeus was firmly in their employment. The text also tells us that Zacchaeus has become quite wealthy. He had likely made his money at the expense of others.
Put the pieces of the picture together and it does not look like a good formula for making and keeping friendships. Zacchaeus stands isolated from his people (who no longer consider him Jewish); and he is probably looked down upon by Rome because he IS Jewish. Zacchaeus doesn’t fit anywhere. His fellow Jews hate him; and the Romans only respect him based on “what he has been able to collect in taxes for them.” He has a “what have you done for us lately” relationship with them.
Do you see where Zacchaeus is?
Illustration: It’s like a stray dog. My family has taken in our fair share of stray dogs. They start off tails tucked and slinking. Often strays will stand at a safe distance because they are afraid to draw near. They are afraid of being hurt or mistreated. And when a dog does not find a home; when it is lost without an owner; when it is abused, mistreated, and pushed away for a long enough time, it eventually becomes distrusting and fierce. You can almost tell when a dog is a long time stray. They have a tendency to growl, bark, or even bite when people come near.