By Joseph Ostrander
Greetings to the chosen saints living out their faith in community also known as Coastlands Vineyard Church. This open forum is an invitation to participate in further dialogue about the principles and concepts Chris has been sharing with us during our Sunday gatherings.
The topics presented recently have addressed; 1) Zacchaeus; 2) home; 3) salvation; and 4) eternal life.
I will provide a thought-provoking ‘regurgitation’ of the topics presented, but only as a catalyst for you, the reader, to comment on and engage in the continuing conversation about what you have gleaned from the same message.
The purpose of this additional Blog element in working through the deep content of Sunday’s hearty theological helpings is twofold; 1) allows the message to be savored and digested slowly during the week; and 2) gives ample opportunity to share any resulting perspectives, ‘ah-ha moments’, more profound reflections, and any practical applications if appropriate.
First consideration: Chris pointed out how Zacchaeus’ very demonstrative public behavior exhibited in the biblical narrative (Luke 19:1-10) was considered shameful and degrading to the Middle-Eastern culture of Jesus’ time. Furthermore, it seems Zacchaeus had no false image of his short stature or his hated status as a Chief Tax Collector. This implies he was resistant to his culture’s expectations (Romans 12:2), or how he did not let the way he was marginalized determine his behavior, and how he had accepted his physical height limitations that prompted the necessary climbing up the sycamore tree to get a glimpse of Jesus.
Q: What elements of our false self-images prevent us from seeing Jesus more clearly? And do we find ourselves conforming more to our culture’s expectations and the way we may marginalize others, instead of being challenged by the topsy-turvy dynamic of the Kingdom of God?
Second consideration: Home. Jesus seems to immediately reciprocate by also violating cultural protocol and ‘rudely’ invites Himself over to Zacchaeus’ house to be fed and entertained. But what an amazing Guest! I envy not being privy to the conversations that transpired.
Q: Does our spiritual journey begin at ‘home’, or when we leave it until we are finally ‘Home’? How has this journey been experienced in your life (reference Matthew 19:29)?
Third consideration: Salvation and eternal life. Chris has been very deliberate about making this one critical statement—salvation and eternal life cannot be isolated from the very person of Jesus. In other words, neither salvation nor eternal life are sterile theological notions, or definitions, that reduce those two critical concepts into a doctrine or ‘transaction’ apart from a vital relationship with the Christ, the Savior, Immanuel, the risen Lord, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).
And finally some closing thoughts regarding this element of eternal life, or abundant life, or life to the full (John 10:10). What did Jesus really mean? What is this abundant quality of life Jesus alludes to in this passage? Rob Grayson, in his Blog Faith Meets World, shares his understanding this way:
“What is it that life is full of? Perhaps we would like life to be full of nothing other than health, wealth and happiness…but this is rarely the reality in which we live. Life is full of contrasts. Thinking back over our rich and varied experience, each of us can no doubt remember both deeply painful events and other events that were sources of abiding joy. We are each of us formed by pain and happiness, grief and joy, light and dark.
I would venture to suggest that, in this present world, ‘life in all its fullness’ includes all of the contrasts of human experience: all of life’s agony and ecstasy, all of the valleys and the mountaintops, all of the storms and the sunshine. Indeed, I would even be so bold as to suggest that one cannot fully experience the glorious joys of life without also experiencing its more troublesome moments. The darkness of the one makes the lightness of the other all the brighter.”
Think about it…and please share your ruminations with the rest of the Coastlands flock…