Years ago I had a conversation with someone on the phone. Eventually our conversation got around to Jesus. My phone partner got defensive which is funny since his phone conversation started with him lying to me.
I asked him why he was hostile.
He explained about his sister and her being this “religious” person and how she would always attack him.
I asked him if I had attacked him, or judged him, or in any way was rude to him.
Which lead him to comment about how the most “spiritual” person he had ever met was a Buddhist monk who, at the age of 16, went to live at a monastery and, at 60, is still living there.
I told him I could be the most “spiritual” person in the world if I didn’t have to deal with people.
Which leads me to another conversation that I had with a friend - we were talking about life on other planets. He asked me if I thought life existed on other planets.
I said, “I don’t know. But how does that help me to love you.”
My simple point to him, which he figured out, is that we can get so sidetracked on things that have no bearing on the people around us, that we forget how to love the people around us. Take the monks for instance – how does separating yourself from everyone help make the world a better place? Should we not be there for our family and friends?
We, as a people, like to be in our little “bubble.” We prefer not to have to deal with conflict or with people who disagree with us. We avoid people we consider “undesirable.” I’m guilty.
Jesus, the Lord of the universe, in one of his most simple acts told Zacchaeus that “I need to eat with you.” It profoundly changed Zacchaeus’ life. Zacchaeus was one of the most hated Jews of his day – a tax collector. Most of us know the story. He was a short guy that worked for the Roman government. Despised by the Jews and probably looked down upon by the Romans, which is probably why he did what he could to profit. Possibly all he had was money to befriend him.
Jesus simply loved him. He didn’t recoil in horror because he was a dreaded tax collector. He didn’t make fun of him because he was short. He simply loved him. “I need to eat with you.” Simply put he told Zacchaeus, “I want to hang out with you” - a simple act of love.
How many people around us just need someone to smile at them? How many people just need someone to acknowledge their existence?
Without getting into a long rabbit trail, realize there does come a time when you have to “brush off the dust from your feet and move on.” Some people will just hate you.
Anyway, we are called to be “in” the world but not “of” the world. Seek God’s kingdom first. Touch those you can, walk away from those who will seek to drag you down, and pray that God gives you the discernment to know the difference.
Am I good at this? Nope. But I’m pressing towards the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Be blessed. Be a blessing.