Jesus comes to meet us. Just like in the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus does not sit at home with his feet up waiting for everybody to come and worship him. Of course this image sounds silly – but it is in fact how popular Western culture thinks about God: that he’s far away on his throne so obsessed with his own personal glory that he doesn’t even notice any of our sufferings. This is the image of God that radical atheism likes to promote because it makes him look so bad that atheism, dreary and unimaginative as it is, looks liberating and interesting by comparison.
The problem of course is that God is nothing like this at all. We know this for two reasons. One is that, if God really was only self-obsessed, then he wouldn’t have looked beyond himself to create anything: what for? There would be no point. But obviously that can’t be right, because he ended up creating the world. So he must be the opposite: instead of being self obsessed, he is preoccupied with giving himself for others : in short, Love.
The other reason we know God is not all about himself is from the Gospel today. Jesus knows he is the Son of God, the point of creation. So does he sit at home in front of the fire waiting for humanity to serve him tea and scones? No: he does the total opposite – he spends all his time on the road looking for them. This is extremely important: if you think that God is not out looking for you, then you don’t know God at all. Because Jesus loves us so much, he is impatient, he aches for us, and can’t help going out to look for us, each one of us, whether we love him or hate his guts, to meet us, and serve us and heal us and save our souls from eternal separation from him. Jesus entered Jericho and was going through the town. . .When Jesus reached the spot he looked up and spoke to him: ‘Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today.’ Hurry he says: like someone inflamed with passion, he burns to spend intimate time with us in our home.
And that’s a practical point for us to consider: is Jesus welcome in our home? He’s in Zacchaeus’ house: is he in ours? There are 4 things which can show if he’s welcome:
- One is that our home be a place of prayer. That amongst our pictures there are some holy pictures. And that there be a prayer corner in the lounge room, or elsewhere, where the whole family prays together every night, and where we know we can go at any time, especially in times of distress or difficulty, to find God’s peace.
- There are no New Age crystals or dreamcatchers or tarot cards or star sign things or stuff from other religions: either God is God in our home, or he’s not. New Age stuff is like a welcome mat to the Devil, and to lots of problems.
- A third way is to be hospitable – that when we can we spend time welcoming others: because whenever we welcome someone into our home, we are welcoming Jesus: whatever you did to the least of these, you did it to me.
- A final point is that when people think of our home, they think of it as a Christian home. Is our home known as a place of swearing, or fighting, or indecent TV shows or movies? Or when people think of our home, do they consider it a place where they aren’t allowed to swear, as a place of service, and where they will see the family pray before every meal and when the kids go to bed?
If Jesus is to walk into our home, will he feel at home? If not, maybe it’s time to do some redecorating and add some prayer times. Because in an often twisted, bored and tired world, being a genuine Christian home is the best thing we can offer those who visit us, our children, and our society: because it is a place of peace, a sanctuary of the love of God.