A Note From Chris - March 10, 2022

Earlier today, a ministry friend shared his testimony about being an alcoholic and drug addict who sort of accidentally ended up at a week of 5-6th grade church camp. Amazingly, God met him face to face during that week, and during an invitation for the students, he sobbed his way to the stage and gave his life to Christ along with a few pre-pubescent campers. Over the past 40 years, he’s served the Lord and his church faithfully. His story inspires me to keep praying and looking for today’s “campers.”

One of my favorite verses of Jesus in the gospels is Luke 19:10 – “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” This verse is at the end of an encounter with a man named Zacchaeus, a tax collector who was hated by his community and was driven by personal wealth and success. Feel free to read all 10 verses if you have a moment. Earlier this week, I shared the story of Zacchaeus anew with our staff as we prepare for Easter in just a few short weeks. I reminded them, and I remind us now as a church, of a few key thoughts from the powerful story.

1) Zacchaeus was interested in Jesus. He wasn’t following Jesus, but something made him curious. He was willing to see what Jesus was all about. Who in your life may be open to the truth of the Savior, but you have yet to share it with them?

2) Jesus called Zacchaeus by name. We can’t know for sure, but we can gather that people had lots of other names for this social misfit other than his real name. But Jesus saw him well beyond his job or his current situation. When he looks at you (or the people you know), He doesn’t see the list of things that may have a hold on you. He sees the real you, the one He created, the one that longs to know Him and His freedom.

3) “The people” were displeased. If verse 10 is my favorite in this passage, verse 7 is certainly my LEAST favorite. Luke tells us that many of the people who witness Jesus literally call a man out of a tree and invite himself over for dinner did NOT like what he was doing.

If the context were modernized, “the people” would represent church folks who simply do not have a heart for the lost, but instead for the status quo and how things used to be. They don’t have eyes to see a man about to give up to half of his earnings to Kingdom work (which Zacchaeus at least offered to Jesus), but simply someone who did not act like or look like what they thought he should. I pray regularly that I will not become “the people” in this story, but that my life always looks more and more like Jesus, willing to see others for who God says they are, not what my quick estimation would conclude.

4) Jesus reiterated his mission. He came to seek and save that which was lost, which includes all the Zacchaeuses in your life and mine. Who are they? What are THEIR names? Are you praying for them?

As we approach Easter, I encourage you to add to your daily prayers (keep up with our 100 Days of Prayer challenge!) that God would use you to reach those who are far from him that are open to him. I believe God will answer our prayers.

Along with our prayers and conversations, Easter is a fantastic time to invite someone to join you for church. We have printed some invite cards at both campuses to help you in your invitation. Be sure to pick some up this weekend. I am praying God will powerfully use us to see life change this Easter season.

Yours & His,
Chris VandeLinde

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