Sometimes I think I forget, or lose sight of, why Jesus came. Because of that, at times I think I forget, or lose sight of, what my purpose in being a disciple is all about.
As an image bearer of God I am called to live and act as God’s representative in this place. In some sense, I am God’s clone, doing my best to represent God in the creation. Part of my task is to care for the creation the way God would, helping it to flourish. Part of my task is to live even now as if the Kingdom is already realized; to be a sign pointing to what New Creation life should involve. Part of my task is to love others, everyone I come into contact with, with the love of God. To accept, encourage, and care for all those that life happens to bring into my area of influence (which at times includes thousands and at other times just a few or even one). Those are grave responsibilities. I’m not always successful, or faithful in the calling, but it is the goal of what I’m hoping to be as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
As I strive to fulfill that calling, I must also remember, that all of those specific callings are in many ways an outgrowth of the main calling in the life of Jesus, as well as my own life, to seek and save the lost.
Consider the story of Zacchaeus, who was a wee little man as the song goes. Zacchaeus could possibly be labeled as least likely to become a follower of God. He is described in Luke 19 as the chief tax collector and very rich. (Less than twenty verses earlier in the gospel of Luke Jesus had mentioned how difficult it was for the rich to enter the Kingdom. Now Luke allows the readers to encounter a very rich man.) He was short in stature, which probably didn’t just describe his physical height, but may have also signified his level of respect in the community. He was labeled by many in the crowd as simply a sinner.
When Zacchaeus hears that Jesus is passing through Jericho he wanted to catch a glimpse of the miracle worker, but could not see him because of the crowd, so he runs ahead and climbs a tree to see Jesus. However, while Zacchaeus was just trying to catch a glimpse of Jesus as he passed through, Jesus saw Zacchaeus and decided it was time to stop and act. Jesus sees him in the tree and changes course. Instead of traveling on toward Jerusalem (where he will arrive in just eighteen verses) Jesus halts the journey for the evening and decides to stay in Zacchaeus’s house. In actuality, Jesus demands to stay at Zacchaeus’s house. “Come down from that tree, I’m staying at your house today.”
The crowds begin to grumble, he’s going to the home of a sinner, but Jesus doesn’t mind the rumors. This is what Jesus is about. Yes, he needs to get to Jerusalem. Yes, he needs to get to the cross. Yes, the Kingdom of God is at hand. Yes, the disciples and others need taught. But this moment (and moments just like this moment) are why Jesus came. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Jesus was on mission to change lives. Jesus was focused on evangelism.
Creation care is important. Living today in the already/not yet Kingdom is important? Loving others, and offering love to those that are often neglected is one of the most important ways to imitate the heart of God. But when there is a chance to share the gospel, that opportunity takes precedence.
Jesus still very much met needs. He fed the hungry. He healed the sick. He bound up the broken. And he chastised those who were religious but didn’t help the poor or hurting around them. However, he never lost sight of what is most important, seeking and saving the lost. For as he tells the crowds at the end of the Zacchaeus story, “the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
Handing out food boxes is an important way to share love, but I must make sure it is accompanied with the gospel.
Recycling and creation care are important aspects of living as faithful stewards and caretakers of what God has made. But it must also involve the Good News of Jesus.
Gathering with a church community on Sunday to praise God and encourage others is invaluable. But, I also need to be involved in sharing the gospel with others.
It’s not easy. There’s pressure and fear involved. But we must be trying to seek and save the lost.