Learning From A Tax Collector

One way Christians experience the presence of God is when we are out being His witnesses.

I spent a few minutes this past week listening to a sermon by author and pastor Francis Chan, titled “The Thrill of Obedience”.  I’d love to share some of his thoughts and tie them into our challenge of living missionally in our communities.

Francis talked about the joy that comes from hearing and repenting.  How often do we hear a word from God in a sermon, book or conversation and then walk away convicted but unwilling to change?  It’s the act of change or repentance, (turning from our ways and going a different direction) which signifies and radicalizes our faith.  However, change often comes with a cost and price, something many of us are not willing to embrace.

In Luke 18 and 19 we are given the story of two rich men.  Both men heard a word from Jesus and both made a follow-up choice.  The rich ruler, after hearing Jesus message, walked away sad and unwilling to change.   (Luke 18:23)

Jesus’s response to the rich ruler was this:

“…it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”  Luke 18:25

The rich tax collector Zacchaeus however, in Luke 19 repented and changed his ways, giving half of everything to the poor and repaying his wrongs four fold.  (Luke 19:8)

Jesus responds by saying to Zacchaeus:

“Today salvation has come to this house.”  Luke 19:9

Have you ever been there before?  In that place where you heard or felt that God wanted you to do something about what you learned and then you were left with a decision?  What do I do?  Should I change?  Should I do something about this?  It’s a tough place to be.

As Francis emphasized, it’s in these moments of surrender and repentance that we experience some of the richest presence of God.  It’s in these times that we realize the truth of Mark 16:20 that says that God will be with us as we seek to proclaim his truth to the world.

Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”   Luke 16:20; [boldnesss added]

Maybe it has been a neighbor going through a painful issue in their life, or a co-worker or friend turning to addictions to cover their pain.  Possibly a news article you read explaining the poverty or neglect of certain individuals in your city.  We have all been there before.  Sensing the nudge to act but hesitant to pay the cost of our time, comforts or control.  I would be lying if I said it hasn’t got the best of me in the past.  I know I have missed some of those opportunities to love others and experience God in a fresh and powerful way.

Loving our neighbor through missional living will require some discomfort and sacrifice.  However, let me encourage you as I encourage myself, that God nudges us for a reason.  If His spirit is placing a burden on your heart to “do something” then maybe it’s time to change.  Maybe it’s time to react as Zacchaeus did with obedience and zeal. God may want to meet you in a fresh and profound way.

To listen to Francis Chan’s sermon The Thrill of Obedience in its entirety please visit: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=32413949401 
Image Courtesy of Jason Rogers / Flickr
By | 2013-12-27T11:30:56+00:00 December 27th, 2013|Categories: Learn and Apply, 2:10|

About the Author:

John Warden is Reconciled World’s global staff pastor and the facilitator for 2:10. He holds a Masters of Religion from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and has more than fifteen years of ministry experience. He lives in Sioux Falls, SD with his wife and two daughters. You can contact him directly at johnw@reconciledworld.org.

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