Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man, A Wee Little Man Was He. He climbed up in a sycamore tree, for the Lord he wanted to see.
Perhaps you started singing along. Many of us learned this song as children. Maybe we taught them to our children.
But, by and large, we turned our back on the Zacchaeus story as USAmerica adults. We try to avoid talking about the story itself. It is simply too scandalous for a capitalistic/consumer-based society – too challenging. Instead we focus on what Jesus does, going to Zaccaeus’ house, not the gauntlet challenge throw down that ensues.
Every child is taught to share, but then we grow up. Share? No thanks.
“Come down from that sycamore tree!” Do you remember what happens next? Zacchaeus was rich. He was a chief tax collector. “Hurry, come down; for I must stay at your house today,” says Jesus. And the crowd grumbled, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner!” Zacchaeus, still standing with the crowd, says “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house….”
Economic revolution was a part of Jesus ministry. He believed the rich should give all their money to the poor. He felt that until that happened the kingdom of God could not be realized. The rich, young ruler was told until he gave away what he had to follow Jesus he would be unable to enter that kingdom.
Here we are again: and the theme of socialism is strong in this one we call Lord. What are we to do with that, as the chief among capitalists? Really folks, what are we going to do? Because now is not the time to dismiss large swaths of Jesus’ ministry, and large swaths of the Bible. Now is not the time for defensiveness or talk of the status quo.
Now is the time to take a serious account of our lives. Now is the time to suspend our political presuppositions at least long enough to hear God speak to us anew. Now is the time to stop loving our church buildings so much, and start loving ministry again. Now is the time to invest in changing people’s lives, not hording millions of dollars for a rainy day fund, in order to keep people just the same as we have always been. Folks, it is raining.
And the rain is washing away our false exterior and revealing something about our mission. What we have invested in…that is not the Church. The Church is about changing people’s lives. It is about discipleship. It is about radical Kingdom Building with Jesus at the center of our lives, tearing down those anxieties about budgets, and money, and worldly possessions.
Jesus’ economic revolution missed many of our churches – instead taken over by the devil, who adores greed and selfishness.
Really folks, what are we going to do?
Are we ready to lose our lives in order to gain them? I hope so. For our sake.