Sunday, October 30, 2016

Zaki's Great Exchange

Many will remember the childhood Bible song...

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...

I make no apologies for the fact it is now stuck in your head. My Arabic-speaking friends call this guy Zaki. I like it. So I will use that name. But Zaki is immortalized for being short. As my friend Stevan Betcher pointed out in his sermon at Church of the Savior, though, Zaki was a tax collector--a public ally known "sinner" of Jericho. He didn't push through the crowd because someone might have stabbed him. Zaki is the Despised One in every sense. So he takes a safer, more memorable path to get a good look at Jesus. 

And as the Savior passed that way,
He looked up in that sycamore tree. 
And he said, "Zacchaeus, you come down!
For I'm going to your house today."

What the song doesn't go on to say is what Jesus does: the crowd's contempt for Zaki goes away. And the contempt for Jesus shows up. JESUS becomes the Despised One. Jesus takes Zaki'/ place as the resident "sinner" in Jericho. And Zaki becomes the one who is generous, who brings justice, who demonstrates grace to those who despised Him. It's the foretaste of the Great Exchange that would take place at the Cross. Jesus shows up. He frees Zaki. And Zaki now has a new identity and a new life. Let's embrace the scandal of our exchange. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Recovery

So, just two weeks ago, I had surgery. It was outpatient and relatively minor, but it involves six weeks of recovery: no lifting anything over 15 lbs., walking instead of running, no exercise of any kind, wearing a large binder/flexible belt around my torso, etc. In my better moments--most of the time--everything feels normal (with the exception of the binder, but it's getting to be normal). But about 10,000 steps into the day, and I start to feel it: a pinch or burn from the stitches, a mild burning, or a muscle spasming just ever so slightly. I'm not whole. I'm not strong. I'm not where I need to be.

But, somehow, what's necessary for my healing has been placed. It's done.  But the groans of the healing continue. As I've been reflecting on this, it has a lot connected with the way that the life of Jesus plays out in our life. Everything necessary for my salvation--the new birth of my spirit, the renewal of my mind and heart, the future resurrection of my body--has been done once and for all by Jesus. It's given. It's granted. The "surgery" of grace by repentance, forgiveness, faith, the love of God, and the blessed hope, has been done, but the groans of the healing continue.

Some days, I see the fruits of repentance in my life. Some days, I'm aware of what God's grace has done. There are moments of unshakeable faith that I really get surprised by after the fact, but feel just so natural at the time. And then there's pains-- sin that still seeks to cling so closely, or the natural brokenness of life in a sin-crushed world, like sickness or insomnia, or depression, you name it. And it's in those moments, that I need to look forward to the end of recovery: resurrection. The work has been done by the Great Physician, but the healing He is doing is ongoing, and He will finish it in a glorious way...and I'll finally be myself. I'll be whole, strong, and exactly who He made me to be all along.