So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal2 Corinthians 4:18 [NLV]
When I think of earthly things, I think of things that hinder our relationships with the right people, our relationship with God and the church. I can say that life moving forward is always a big worry for me because moving forward means having to also adjust my relationships with everyone and then not being sucked into a world where I am thinking from a worldly perspective.
I’m going to be honest, I struggled with what I should write about ‘Earthly things’ and I was praying and thinking ‘oh my goodness, what if I have nothing to say’ – but God then put an image in my head, which was of me sitting in my primary school listening to our local Catholic Church Vicar talk into the parable about Zacchaeus the Tax collector.
So, I saw this as a sign to talk about Luke 19. So, let’s break down what I got from this parable in terms of ‘earthly things’. (It is rather lengthy but do not let that intimidate you.)
Luke 19: 1-10 [NLT]
Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. 2 There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. 3 He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way. 5 When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” 6 Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 7 But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. 8 Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” 9 Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
I believe the first 4 verses are explanatory for us to read, Zacchaeus was a sinner and greedy yet, everyone knew it. He had robbed them of their money because of his position in society he felt he had the right to do so, he made them poor while he was living in riches and dwelling in the life of nice expensive things. Zacchaeus was a powerful man, and the roman people were powerless so they could not stop him.
Verse 5 – When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”
Jesus had chosen to stay with the person everyone had deemed unlikable and disrespectful instead of staying with a well-respected person. He had no plan on staying with someone with a respected status. Jesus had already shown Zacchaeus some compassion even if other people did not think he deserved it. Jesus knew he did.
Verse 8 – Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”
Even being in the presence of Jesus, Zacchaeus had realised all his wrongs and had immediately been exposed to all his sinful ways. Jesus had stripped Zacchaeus bare and made him aware of all the wrong things he had been doing in the name of money and greed. Zacchaeus was stuck in a cycle of stealing people’s money because of the position he had been put in instead of looking around and realising that he had been doing wrong the entire time by being greedy, selfish, and blind to all the damage he had caused. Zacchaeus had seen how wrong he had been and had made amends with the people by giving back what he had taken, he had overcome his past in the name of the Lord and lived up to his name which means ‘pure’ or innocent’.
Verse 9 – Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
Salvation is a gift that is made available to those who repent, believe, and confess that Jesus is Lord. Zacchaeus had repented and had opened his eyes to a world with the Lord instead of being a man people did not like or not being a Godly man.
For me, earthly things mean to surround yourself with items, money, the wrong people, etc. There are many definitions as to what earthly things are in Christianity but to summarise the definition is things that hinder your relationship with God.
What I received from this parable is that you do not need to surround yourself with earthly objects and things that will not mean an awful lot when we are called to be with the Lord. Jesus does not take us because we have millions of pounds or because we have the latest phone.
He takes us just as we are. He wants us. He wants you.