Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’
The good news of Jesus involves more than going to heaven when we die. It includes the transformation of all of life, here and now. However, this ‘sacred-secular divided’ mindset, which sees some parts of life as sacred and significant and others as secular and unimportant, may distort our vision of God’s purposes for the world. If faith is only a matter of inward reflection, then many opportunities could be missed for living as whole-life disciples.
Zacchaeus is described as both rich and a chief tax-collector. The combination of the two could mean that he has been at this job for a while and has made something of a reputation for himself. His fellow Jews are likely to have loathed his collaboration with Rome, and certainly saw him as a ‘sinner’ (Luke 19:7).
Earlier in the Gospel, John the Baptist’s instruction for tax collectors not to collect more than required indicates that corruption may have been commonly found among those in such a role (Luke 3:12–13). But after Jesus invites himself to be guest at his home, Zacchaeus promises to give to the poor and pay back those he may have cheated.
I wonder what it was about Jesus that caused this radical change of heart? How long had it been since a fellow Jew greeted Zacchaeus with such friendly acceptance? To be acknowledged like this must have been breathtaking, not only for Zacchaeus, but also for those standing by – for Jesus is risking even his own reputation by associating with this man.
A change of work was not included in Zacchaeus’ promises, and there is no indication he stopped collecting taxes. Even so, once ‘salvation has come to this house’, that would surely provide the motivation for doing his job differently. Jesus doesn’t raise the issue of occupation either, perhaps because his work for Rome was still important to God even if it was for an imperfect administration.
Maybe your frontline is not connected to any form of church ministry (or maybe it is!). Either way, your work matters to God because the flourishing of all creation matters to him. That’s not to suggest you shouldn’t seek to make changes to your circumstances. Rather, it is to say that whatever you do today, do it well and for the glory of God.
Events & Office Operations Manager, LICC
How might knowing that God cares about your frontline change how you live this week? Join the conversation in the comments below.