When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5).
As our Engage Groups focus on having a balance of out, in, and up, the question came up in our International Engage Group of how to be “out” and connect with other cultures. The leaders sat down one night to specifically find Biblical examples of Jesus’ interactions with other cultures. We soon came to Zacchaeus, a Jew by birth and a tax collector by trade. Although his ethnicity was the same as Jesus’, his culture as a tax collector was much different than that of a rabbi. Think American white collar executive on Wall Street and American organic farmer in Southern California to understand
how different cultures can exist under one larger title.
As we dove further into the passage, it really started getting comical. Without any preface or small talk, Jesus declares that He will be going to Zacchaeus’ house. I think I was in pre-school when my mom taught me not to invite myself over to my friends’ houses without an invitation, yet Jesus invites Himself to someone’s house who is basically a stranger. But at this point, I figured Jesus was on to something and it might be wise for me to start imitating Him.
I’m used to Jesus saying, “follow of me,” and I often call myself a follower of Jesus. I also want to see others follow Him. But after reading this passage closely and meditating on it, I started thinking, what if sometimes we have to purposely go to others before they will follow. A lot of times we make our out times “out events.” We host an event related to our Engage Groups and expect people who we don’t even know that well to come. There are times when this is completely appropriate, good, successful, exactly what God wants, and fulfilling. Other times, it flops.
Jesus also gives us this model to incorporate. Seek out people of peace and then invite yourself to do what they are doing. It’s kind of genius. You may not be able to count on people to come somewhere when you invite them, but you can count on yourself to go be with them. If they aren’t showing up to your event, clearly they are already doing something else, so do it with them! Break the rule your momma taught you and invite yourself over to play.
I’ve been finding that this actually creates a desirable dynamic. People you are reaching out to become friends, not charity. True friendships involve reciprocity. When we do things with them, they are more likely to do things with us, and before you know it a friendship is formed. There is no longer a divide between us and them; instead, there is a meshing of lifestyles that facilitates openness, understanding, and true friendship.
Thank you Jesus for showing us that there are two sides to this out: inviting others to come follow and being willing to go. Out is more than a monthly event, it’s a missional lifestyle.
~ Candice Hudson