Too Out of Shape for the Gym
There was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. Luke 19:2-3
I heard it again the other day. I’m too flabby to go to the gym. I need to get in shape before I can go. This, of course, is why the gym exists. The idea that one must be physically fit to go to the place where one goes to get physically fit, is absurd.
Still, I get it. When I began honestly seeking faith and recovery, the disaster of my addiction was fresh in everyone’s mind. I knew I needed church, but church was about the last place I wanted to go. No one there was mean to me, but they all looked so perfect. They had their lives together, while mine was such a mess. I felt like I needed to clean up before I could set foot in the church.
I assume Zacchaeus felt this way as well. As chief tax collector, he was also the chief of sinners. Still, he wanted to meet Christ. He didn’t feel comfortable pushing his way down front, and he was too short to see from the back, so he climbed a tree. Though he felt dreadfully out of place, Zacchaeus was the one Jesus was looking for that day.
The church, like the gym, often fails to attract those whom Jesus is seeking. Commercials for the gym often show the ideal results – attractive, lean, muscular bodies. This makes the one who needs the gym most, feel most unwelcome. Churchgoers often do something similar, presenting a facade of perfection. The church should, like Jesus, seek those who need it most. The church should be the first place the addict goes when he realizes his need for God.
How do we make church what it should be? How do we make it the kind of place that the addict can go to find God? We start by realizing that we are all Zacchaeus. None of us are great enough that we should look down on others. We all have need and in being honest about our need, we invite others to feel comfortable sharing theirs. In pretending we have it all together, we repel those looking for Christ. In humbly seeking God, we invite others to do the same.