I have to admit, I am usually skeptical when I hear of various celebrities who have been "born again". Alice Cooper, Deon Sanders, Michael Irvin, Stephen Baldwin, even Paris Hilton and Michael Vick supposedly "found Jesus" recently. Good grief.
Yesterday I read an article in a magazine that said Korn's former lead guitarist, Brian Welch, left the band in 2005 because he became a Christian. My initial reaction was- "yeah, right..."
I don't know if Welch or any of the others are genuinely born again, that's besides the point-I do know the Lord convicted me about my attitude yesterday. He used the story of Zacchaeus to jar me from my self-righteousness and make me seek Christ anew.
He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” - Luke 19:1-10
1. Christ is Sovereign over salvation, I have not contributed a thing to my salvation. Christ’s effectual call to me was no different, in essence, to what happened to Zacchaeus.
2. No one is outside the reach of God’s saving Grace. Who am I to judge who God saves? Did I deserve salvation? I must not grumble against God’s great redemptive work!
3. Repentance will have clear fruit. Genuine salvation includes repentance and a changed life. Part of the change may require restitution- joyful restitution!
4. I must passionately long for our Savior, without worry about what others might think of me.
These realizations lead me to further personal reflections:
- I am again humbled by the absolute sovereignty of God in my salvation. As much as my sinful pride wells up and wants to stake some kind of claim in my salvation, such an account reminds me of Christ’s personal, effectual call to me, a terrible sinner. I was in no way attractive to Jesus, but rather sovereignly chosen to be a tool of God for His glory. More of His glory is displayed when I decrease.
- I am convicted by my pharisaical judgment upon those who I don’t think are worthy of salvation. I remember when Ted Bundy (mass murderer and rapist) made a profession of faith that James Dobson thought was genuine based on their personal interaction. Can God save Ted Bundy? Should He? How about the aforementioned celebrities? Can He really save them? Should He? How dare I think such a thing! Who am I to say who “deserves” salvation? No one “deserves” salvation- especially not me! Praise God, He can even save Ted Bundy, if it is His Will. He can even save me.
- When I repent, do I do so joyfully and with zeal to make right what I have made wrong? Often I find myself like a little child who mutters “sorry”, just to get mom or dad off my back. Instead, it is God’s grace that produces true repentance. I pray for a more penitent spirit that longs for God’s glory in my repentance for sin.
- I want to do whatever it takes to see Jesus- even climb a tree and risk embarrassment or worse. Why do I care what people think? Lord, give me the boldness to do whatever it takes to be close to Jesus and not be so judgmental.