Zacchaeus was a wee little man but a popular man he was not. If you were raised in Sunday school chances are you sang the happy little song about Zacchaeus and the tree but underneath that cheerful melody was a story of inclusion. Jesus wanted to go to his house even though it was considered taboo. Christians hear this story and are inspired but are we any better than the crowds in Jericho?
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” Luke 19:7
My mom has always told me “you are the company you keep” and she is right. When we surround ourselves with people with positive outlooks and moral clarity, we tend to follow that path. The same is true for the opposite. That doesn’t mean that your circle of influence shouldn’t be larger than the church parking lot. All too often we are quick to build our Christian wall up and keep the sinner’s out, forgetting that we too are dripping with sin.
We are called to be like Jesus, and he was commonly found in the valleys with those who had been cast out by the very church claiming to follow Him.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40
We are called to sharpen each other (As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17) but what if you are the piece of iron that initiates that very first stroke.
The valleys are where you find Jesus the most, those are the stories God loves to tell. The valleys are where he shows His glory. If your circle only includes those who are exactly like yourself in the best of times and if you look at people as “the sinners” just like the crowd in Jericho did to Zacchaeus, then you are missing an opportunity to not only share the redeeming love of Jesus the friend of sinners but also on the chance to be sharpened yourself by the true miracles that happen in the lowest of places, where real life happens.