Monday Motivator – February 6

It seems that regardless of the social setting you find yourself in, you can always find a clique and be affected by one. It does not happen just in high school, but private little groups are also painful in your family, college, the marketplace, and even church.

I have heard from alumni and friends that the workplace is just as hard as high school. One of my friends said eating alone is just as lonely now as it was when he was a junior, no matter what lunchroom you are in. I have noticed that even in gatherings of church leaders or parishioners, cliques are still in vogue.

We all need and want good friends, but it is often hard to break into a social setting. It appears to be a human tendency that people generally drift toward being exclusive. Many people, Christians included, have a hard time breaking out of their pattern to allow others in to their group. Yet the Scriptures present a God that reveals Himself to be inclusive. He wants His people to excel in expressing His heart of love for everyone.

Read Luke 19:1-10.

Jesus revealed God the Father as inclusive, welcoming any and all who would open their hearts to Him. Jesus encountered man named Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector who was one of the most wealthy (and despised) men in Jericho. The “chief” reference meant he oversaw a district with many tax collectors serving under him. The region was prosperous and no doubt aided in Zaccheaus growing his portfolio and 401K. Getting rich at the expense of others is never a way to gain friends and a good reputation.

One day Jesus came to his area and Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree to get a better look at the Jewish rabbi who was gaining popularity by performing miracles, feeding the multitudes, healing the sick, and speaking with truth and clarity. When Jesus saw him, he said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5). Jesus had urgent business to do with him, but it involved heart issues, not bank related concerns. While Jewish society excluded Zacchaeus due to his character and occupation, Jesus wanted another follower.

If you think the locals cheered the news of this meet-greet-and-eat, think again. Luke noted the people muttered, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner” (v 7). Those words, I think, were meant as a stinging criticism, even a rebuke of Jesus. But on second thought, they were actually a compliment to Jesus, reaffirming that His mission was right on target. Luke then writes that Zacchaeus said to Jesus that he would give half of his wealth to the poor and promised to pay back anyone he had cheated (v 8). He even said he would pay back four times the amount, the repayment required under the Law in case of theft (see Exodus 22:11 and 2 Samuel 12:6).

Jesus saw the admission of Zacchaeus as evidence of a changed heart and said, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham.” In other words, Zacchaeus was a true Jew, because he was not only of the lineage of Abraham, but he was willing to walk in the footsteps of Abrahamic faith (see Romans 4:12). Jesus added, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost” (v 9-10). Never forget that description that summarizes the purpose of Jesus – he came to bring salvation, meaning eternal life and the kingdom of God.

Have you become part of a clique without realizing it? Are you and your friends acting as an exclusive group that others cannot get in to (especially for those outside the community of faith)? If you are private and exclusive in your friendships, it is time to clique out of that mindset so God can open His arms to others through you. Jesus expects you to look past the negative characteristics of others like He did with Zacchaeus…who had been lost, but now was found.

Live communally. Cultivate the habit of always making room for one more. Luke 19:10 should be our mantra. There are no cliques in Christ, just people bringing others to God.

Love is a verb,

Mike Olejarz

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