Vulnerability and the Gospel

If you haven’t read the first blog post, I’m starting to keep a blog. This is not the first time I have tried. My hope is to keep it going at least a few months. I enjoy writing. Truth to be told, I worry nobody has time or interest to read it. And I’m not sure I have the time to engage much commentary on it either. As a parent, I’m distracted enough. But in the hope that a post or two might be helpful to some, here goes.

This Sunday in my sermon, I’m going to touch on the theme of vulnerability. How vulnerable are we willing to be? This sermon is a part of larger series on the life and ministry of Mr. Rogers. Mr. Rogers of all people was willing to help children learn the value of being honest with their vulnerable selves. He assured them it was ok to own their feelings. He let them know it was ok to be angry or sad or happy. We all have vulnerable parts we try to hide. At a surface level, I’m scared of dancing! I’m mortified! I have no rhythm. Think Elaine Benes dancing from Seinfeld (I just dated myself). I’m the one at the edge of the dance floor at a wedding waiting for them to finally play the one song I can dance to: The Macarena! Why is vulnerability so terrifying? It’s the thought or reality of being judged!

In the gospels, I’ll look at the character of Zacchaeus (what a pain to spell his name correctly) from Luke 19. The question I’m asking is “why did Zacchaeus climb the tree?” Sure he was short. The text says he climbed the tree in order to see Jesus. But I tend to feel like Zacchaeus didn’t just want to see Jesus. He also wanted Jesus to see him. For some reason, he knew Jesus could see all the vulnerable parts of his past, while also seeing the hope for his future. The crowds saw Zacchaeus the tax collector, Zacchaeus the corrupt public figure and Jesus saw that too. But Jesus saw more than Zacchaeus the sinner. Jesus also saw the future saint.

Have you ever felt at times like people don’t really see you? Maybe they notice you’re there, but it feels like you’re just part of the landscape. It feels like you blend in with the coffee table. It makes me think of theologian Dr. Greg Ellison whose opening line to his audience is always, “I’m glad to finally see you.” We need to finally see other, which can be frightening.

It requires a great deal of trust and faith to believe that Jesus can see us like he saw Zacchaeus. It means Jesus can see those addictive behaviors, those dashed dreams, those divided hearts. That’s probably why so many people feel shame over their spiritual journey. They fear the judgment of God more than they accept God’s love. But if Zacchaeus can teach us anything, it’s that Jesus cares more about our futures than about our pasts. He came to save the lost. That’s good news for each of us if we dare to open our vulnerable selves to the healing touch of Christ.

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