“Faith is … being changed”

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When I learned the story as a child what I remember worrying about was not that he could not see Jesus or was an evil tax collector — instead I worried… Why did they not like Zacchaeus? Was it because he was short? Was it because he smelled bad?
What made everyone not like him?

“Faith is … being blessed”

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Most of the people pressing in to hear Jesus that day were poor people. They had come from all across rural Judea, from the big city of Jerusalem, even from way over in over in Tyre and Sidon on the coast. They came, like folks came to the RAM clinic a couple of weekends ago, looking for healing because they couldn’t afford doctors and medicines. They came with wild eyes and tormented hearts. They came hungry. But mostly they came looking for hope … hope that something might change.

“Faith is … being humble”

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As Jesus tells the story, the Pharisee is a pompous peacock performing pious prayers for public consumption while parenthetically pouring contempt on other people.
No wonder the tax collector looks good by comparison.

“Faith is … being persistent”

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Jesus tells the story of a very different sort of judge. He is not idealistic or creative. He does not fear God or respect people. He can’t be bothered with the pleas of a widow or be overly worried about justice. But he meets his match in a feisty widow.

“Faith is … being thankful”

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The parable of the Prodigal Son is more familiar.
The parable of the Good Samaritan is more familiar, too.
But if you found yourself charmed or inspired, challenged or made dizzy by them, you will probably feel the same way about this story! Here’s why:

“Is there a balm for the hurting?”

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There is a bluntness, a raggedness, a stumbling staccato to these sentences.
Does the voice belong to Jeremiah or God? We cannot tell.
But since prophets try to express what God is feeling, let’s consider them God’s cries.

“Lost … and found”

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The loss of one sheep or coin doesn’t mean much if you are focused on the 99 or the 9. They are still the bird in the hand, the overwhelming majority, the bulk of what you had, a healthy remainder. The loss is minimal, acceptable, the cost of doing business …

“No longer Slave or Free”

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God says to the house of Israel, “Just like clay in the potter’s hand, so are you.”
It is a rich metaphor, but it does beg the question: What does it look like when those God loves are molded by the divine hand?