A party for a prostitute?

Good morning everyone,
 
Our theme for this month: “Mighty Prevailing Prayer”
 
Our Bible verse for today: “When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down because today it is necessary for me to stay at your house.” Luke 19:5 (CSB)
 
Our thought for today: “A party for a prostitute?”
 
In yesterday’s devotional I noted that people have issues in their lives which we know nothing about, and those issues are often the reason behind the things they say and do. I encouraged us to be slow to judge people and to instead, pray for them and ask God to help us better understand why those people might be speaking and acting in inappropriate ways.
 
This morning I want to continue that thought by considering the encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector and he was rich. That means he made a very good living from defrauding and exploiting his own people, the Jews. He had to have been a despicable man and he would have been hated by his fellow Jews. But in this scene, we find Jesus reaching out to him in a friendly way, and even inviting Himself into Zacchaeus’ home. It was an extraordinary act of kindness, compassion, grace and mercy on the part of Jesus, and the end result was that Zacchaeus repented and became a follower of Christ.
 
Pastor and author Tony Campolo, in his book “The Kingdom of God is a Party”, tells a similar story. He was in Honolulu once to speak at a conference. He had a terrible case of jet lag and couldn’t sleep, so he ended up in an all-night dinner at 3:30 in the morning. Soon a noisy group of prostitutes came in and sat at the table next to him. He heard one of them, by the name of Agnes, mention that since the new day had begun it was now her birthday. The other prostitutes joked that they should throw her a birthday party. Agnes suddenly got quiet and said, “In my entire life nobody has ever given me a birthday party.”
 
After the group left, Tony asked the guy behind the counter (Harry) if those prostitutes came there a lot. “Every night”, Harry said. Tony asked him if he thought they would be back the next night and Harry said he was certain they would be. That gave Tony an idea. The next night when the group came in, there was Tony with a cake, balloons, and a present. He then led the group in singing “Happy Birthday” to Agnes. She was stunned and with tears in her eyes asked why Tony had done this. Tony explained that he was a Pastor and that Jesus loves her. He asked if he could pray for her and he then led the group in a prayer that included a hope that she would change her ways and honor God with the rest of her life.
 
When it was over Tony was asked what kind of church he belongs to. He replied, “The kind that throws birthday parties for whores at 3:30 in the morning.” To which Harry said, “If there really is a church like that, I’ll join it!”
 
Personally, I wouldn’t want to be a part of any church that would not throw a birthday party for a prostitute at 3:30 in the morning. But how do people in a church get to the point of being that kind, that gracious, that merciful and compassionate? By caring about people. By praying for them rather than by judging them.
 
I encourage all of us to pray for people more and to judge them less. Maybe we need to throw more parties.
 
God Bless,
Pastor Jim  
Copyright © 2021 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

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