Maybe I was slower than other kids.
It wasn’t until my sixth-grade school year I started noticing the boys who wore Levi’s 501 blue jeans had higher status than boys who wore slacks or corduroy jeans.
Every August, when the flyers in the Sunday newspaper advertised back-to-school sales at Sears, Mom took me shopping for new clothes.
When it came to choosing my school wardrobe, Mom limited my options to Sears brands.
No Levi’s for me.
Mom insisted I wear corduroy jeans—the ones with the rubber Toughskins label on the backside. So, I did.
When I graduated to high school, I was able to talk Mom into buying 501s. But I wasn’t satisfied with my new status.
I aimed higher.
I wanted a Members Only racer jacket with the cool collar strap and shoulder scales. That’s what the popular guys wore—-the ones who got the attention of popular girls. I got the jacket but didn’t get the girls.
My pursuit of higher status became more difficult in college. The guys who got the girls had cars. It seemed the hotter the car the prettier the girl.
If you are a woman reading that last paragraph and rolling your eyes, that’s the right response.
I couldn’t afford a hot car, and my parents couldn’t either. In 1985, with $1500 I earned working at Big Lake Youth Camp, my dad bought my first car—a previously-owned, brown, 1979 Mazda GLC.
Years later, I elevated my status by purchasing an impulse-red Toyota Corolla Sport. I still have it. Corollas aren’t hot cars, but having one puts a person in the same category with a lot of other people who are conscientious about reliability and economy. The Sport is kind of cool, though, with the spoiler on the back. But I sometimes wished for a new convertible Mustang GT.
A wise man once told me, don’t think of a car as anything more than transportation. That’s good advice. Besides, in my 30s I knew I had the girl I wanted. We had a child. The Corolla had a backseat. There was no practical use for a car without room for getting our child in and out a child's car seat in the backseat.
King Solomon, once the richest and wisest man in the world, was able to acquire anything he wanted, if it could be bought. When he leaned on his God-given wisdom, this donned on him:
“Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless—like chasing the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 6:9, NLT)
Chasing the wind is exhausting. I naturally got sucked into it. Doesn't everyone?
Zacchaeus spent much of his life chasing the wind to raise his status. But his position as a Jewish tax collector for Rome made him a social low-life among his Jewish peers. Everything changed for Zacchaeus when Jesus called him to come down from the sycamore tree and invited himself to his house (Luke 19).
Spending time with Jesus changes people. It changed Zacchaeus.
Sitting, watching and listening to Jesus at his dinner table, Zacchaeus suddenly realized there is only one way to attain meaningful status. The answer is Jesus. So, Zacchaeus decided then and there to give half of his belongings to the poor, and return fourfold anything that he had acquired by fraud.
Zacchaeus wanted what Jesus offers.
For Zacchaeus, that miracle happened.
Jesus announced that Zacchaeus had received salvation. Jesus proclaimed it then and there. That made it real. Jesus‘s words do that. His words accomplish the very thing that they proclaim.
Receiving Jesus’ words are how we receive what Jesus offers.
Zacchaeus was lost before he met Jesus. Without Jesus, we all are lost. To be lost, is to be even lower than a tax collector. When we are lost, we are as low as we can get.
We need someone to save us.
When I was 4 years old, I got lost in Ralph’s grocery. When I realized the grocery cart I thought was Mom’s was being pushed by a stranger, I wandered around in circles looking for my mom. It was like chasing the wind, until Mom found me.
When Jesus gives us salvation, our status changes. We’re no longer lost. It’s the best status that anyone can attain.
God writes your name in the Book of Life.
There is also a transaction that takes place. We experience a new birth through Jesus’ gift of the Holy Spirit. We’re reborn as God’s children.
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”” (Romans 8:14–15, NLT)
As children of God, all that is God’s is within our reach. God’s most valuable possession is self-sacrificing love. Receiving that love becomes the only pursuit that matters. It’s not like chasing the wind. It’s like Jesus’ parable of the father welcoming home his lost son.
God runs toward us.