Who Is the Bad Guy in the Story?
And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” Luke 19:7
If I had to write my own life story, I’d be the hero, right? I’m basically a good guy and even though I’ve made a few mistakes, I’ve meant well. Even in my drug addiction, I made excuses that justified horrible behavior. Sure, I’m lying, stealing, and using drugs, but I’ve got good reasons . . . There came a day though, when I couldn’t deny it anymore. As I looked around at my disaster, I realized that I wasn’t the hapless victim. I was at the epicenter of my calamity and I had no one to blame but me. I was the bad guy in my own story.
This was a painful blow to my worldview, but if I had any hope of changing, I needed to accept that I was the problem. If I wanted my life back, I had to radically change my behavior. To do so, meant abandoning my destructive ways and following a much higher power.
The problem is that we’re often blind to our own flaws and failures. Blindness, by definition, means we fail to see some reality. This seemed to be the case in today’s passage. In the story, Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector – despised by his people – met Jesus, who went home with him. Those observing, the religious elite, were offended. “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”
Looking back, it’s easy for us to see who the bad guys are in the story. We know that it was those who looked down on Zacchaeus, who were the greater sinners that day. Honestly, they didn’t think Zacchaeus was worth saving and they were offended that Jesus even tried. It was Zacchaeus who found forgiveness and eternal life that day though – not the religious elite.
This is a common trap for those of us who feel that we have lived pretty good lives. We think we’re the good guys and we begin to think quite highly of ourselves. As soon as we start to look down on others though, we become the bad guy in our own story. It is only in humbly embracing our continual need for God – like Zacchaeus – that we truly find forgiveness, transformation, and the new life.
Coming soon – on or about February first – The Seeds of the Spirit will transition to a new website, Faith in the Struggle. As the reader, you won’t need to do anything differently. The old address will direct to the new one and if you read by email, you should still receive it in your inbox every day. Faith in the Struggle will, of course, be posted on Facebook as well. Thanks for reading and please continue to share those posts you find helpful!