Zaccheus and Me

By Colin Campbell
By Barb Harris
By Mark Mercer
By Sereena Bexley
By Vennecia Jackson
By Mary Lata Thottukadavil
By Michael Agnew
By Zabdi Piña
By Kristie Davis
By AJ Jerkins
By John Hames
By Makenzie Romero
By Caroline Khameneh
By Victoria Renken
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Dawn Johnson
By DJ Newman
By Mary Weyand
By Rob Nickell
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Nila Odom
By Sherene Joseph Rajadurai
By Kristi Sheffy
By Sharon Arrington
By Sarah Crawford
By Betsy Paul
By Angel Piña
By Elizabeth Piña
By Lori Kuykendall
By Chris Kuykendall
By Matt Holland
By Jessie Yearwood
By Brian Severski
By Brian Arrington
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By Will Meier
By Clint Calhoun
By Jen Mayes
By Alf Laukoter
By Neil Wiersum
By Jim Henry
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By Leah Vanhorn
By Janett Miller
By Isaac Harris
By Chad Golden
By Jonathan Cortina
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By Jill Asibelua
By Jared Barnett
By Paul Martin
By Kristi Herring
By Sissy Mathew
By Shannon Pugh
By Al Palamara
By Melanie Mechsner
By Michelle Garza
By Armando Galvan
By Jeremiah Betron
By Camille Holland
By Rod Myers
By Crystal Elwell
By Darcy Peterson
By Jason Elwell
By Amy Aupperlee
By Barry Jones
By Bryan Eck
By Tricia Kinsman
By Nat Pugh
By Dana Myers
By Craig Pierce
By Jim Woodward
By Andy McQuitty
By Pete Hyndman
By Kevin Dial
By Catherine Boyle
By Catherine & Elizabeth Downing
By Gerald Ridgway
By Jill Hoenig
By Sunitha John
By Tarrin Henry
By RozeLee Rugh
By Beverly Hogan
By Kendra Cordero
By Lisa Gajewski
By Bonnie Goree
By Young-Sam Won
By Chris Beach
By Tom Rugh
By Nick Vuicich
By Andy Franks
By Lead Team
By Jason Roszhart
By Harvard Medical School
By Justin K. Hughes, MA, LPC
By Sherene Joseph
By Earl Davidson
By Rebecca Perry
By Joe Padilla
By Christian Melendez
By Bruce Riley
By Isaac Harris
By Amy Leadabrand
By Ben Haile
By Shaun Robinson
By Natalie Franks
By Cathy Barnett
By Ryan Sanders
By Casey Pruet, The Grace Alliance
By Sharon Arrington
By Lauren Chapin
By Betsy Paul
By Alberto Negron
By Kelly Jarrell
By Michelle Mayes
By Jenn Wright
By Jill Jackson
By Terri Moore
By Robyn Wise
By Katherine Holloway
By Richard Ray
By Kurtlery Knight
By Bruce Hebel
By Neil Tomba
By Tony Bridwell
By Grayson McGovern
By Luke Donohoo
By Kathy Whitthorne
By Mike Moore
By Wade Raper
By Mike Gwartney
By Jo Saxton
By Dieula Previlon
By Jonathan Cude
By Ken Lawrence
By Jay Hohfeler
By Barb Haesecke
By Lindsay Casillas
By JoAnn Hummel
By Shawn Small
By Alice McQuitty
By Jonathan Murphy
By Peggy Norton
By Brent McKinney
By Irving Bible Church
By Irving Bible Church
By Ashley Tieperman
By Betsy Nichols
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By Paul Smith
In Home Groups
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I have a habit of sorting Biblical redemption stories into two categories. The first kind of story is about someone who is down-and-out, someone who needs rescue because life has dealt them a lousy hand. These are stories like the Good Samaritan or Blind Bartemeaus or the Gerasene demoniac. I think it’s beautiful that God reaches across barriers to rescue the poor, powerless, sick and fatherless. These stories are about basic human dignity, and most people I know — be they Christians are not — can get behind that. 

But then there are stories about people who need rescue because of their own bad choices. People like Zaccheus, the woman caught in adultery, and the thief on the cross. These aren’t stories about dignity; they are stories about getting away with something. About people who got something for nothing. People who gamed the system. These stories are not as popular. It’s troubling to think of the adulteress returning to her bed without any accountability, about Barabbas the murder going free on the day Jesus the innocent was executed, about the thief entering paradise after a life of crime and disgrace.

It’s easy to gain a following for mercy; it’s hard for people to get behind grace. 

The thing is, I need the latter. My circumstances have been pretty comfortable. I have never been oppressed. I have never felt compelled to hide my identity, my sexuality, or my race. I live a comfortable life in American suburbia, so while I certainly approve of ministry to the marginalized, I don’t see myself in those stories. All of my life’s greatest regrets came about because of my own sin and selfishness. I identify more readily with the prodigal than the leper.

And that’s why I love to hear messages like the one Pastor Andy preached yesterday about a swindling no-good con man who Jesus called by name. Zaccheus was not just a street tough trying to get by. He was a racketeering kingpin getting fat and rich off the unscrupulous bilking of his own people. He was a turncoat and a cheat. His fellow Jews would have thought of him exactly as Dallas Stacy’s monologue described him: a little rat. Zaccheus deserved Jesus’ wrath and condemnation. He deserved to be made an example for others. Instead, he got a dinner party and a new friend. 

This is one of the things that sets Christianity apart from other belief systems. Jesus seems intent on grouping the perps with the victims, because both need redemption. Jesus' list of the "least of these” includes inmates right alongside the hungry. In the economy of heaven there is a difference between those who suffer righteously and those who suffer because of their own folly. But the difference is in kind, not in value. God sets about to rescue both kinds of people. 

Zaccheus and I are grateful.

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