With all of the issues we are facing from our involvement in world crises, to unemployment, underemployment, scandals in the V.A., senseless killings in our streets, we see the evidence that our nation needs to return to the place where Christ is welcome in our homes. And fathers are often the ones who play the most important role in that reality. It is the absence of fathers, physically, emotionally or spiritually that have in a large part contributed to the moral and spiritual decline in our nation. A popular rap artist known for his vulgar and abusive music made this sad comment, “I don't even know how to speak up for myself, because I don't really have a father who would give me the confidence or advice.” I wonder if that has something to do with the nature of his lyrics.
A father may even provide a beautiful home, but if Christ is not in that home, then we will see that unalterable Biblical truth come true, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). What good is it to have beautiful architecture and interior design if Christ is not present? This is to have a house built on the sand and when storms come into our lives that house will fall with a great crash. But if Christ is there, though our home be little more than a trailer, that home will be built on a rock that the storms of life cannot blow down no matter how hard the winds blow.
In Luke 19:5 we find Jesus saying to a tax collector named Zacchaeus, “I must stay at your house today.” This man was living in Jericho, a city of ill-repute. Jericho was a wealthy city which is why it probably drew a large number of tax collectors. Even then tax collectors loved to tax the rich and they usually took more than the law allowed and grew rich themselves in the process. The result is that they were a despised segment of society. Yet it was to this tax collector that Jesus said, “I must stay at your house today.”
The religious leaders were offended that Jesus should choose to stay at the house of such a “sinner.” But suppose Jesus had chosen to stay at the home of a respected member of society who was known for his culture and intelligence. Would we not all say, “Of course Jesus would want to stay with that person?” But no, Jesus chooses Zacchaeus’ house precisely because He wants all of us to know that He desires to stay at our houses today.
As Jesus searched for a place to stay that day, He took notice of Zacchaeus, the little man up in the sycamore tree. He had once told His disciples that when they came to a town to look for a “man of peace,” i.e. someone whom God had prepared to hear the good news. Zacchaeus was such a man. Jesus had never met Zacchaeus but He in His omniscience knew His name. “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” Jesus also knows your name and wants to stay at your house. I say that especially to fathers. In fact He not only wants to stay at your house but He also wants to share with you important truths that will transform your home into His home. Will you welcome Him?
Perhaps as at no other time in history have American homes needed Jesus Christ to move in. Whether we look at senseless killing sprees in Colorado, Connecticut, California or Seattle, or two young girls attempting to knife to death a classmate in Wisconsin because of a video game, or a giant corporation trying to make sense out of the decision not to replace a car ignition switch that would have cost less than a dollar and save dozens of lives, or the rush to redefine marriage, or the music and movies that try to push the envelope of decency far beyond anything that makes sense, it seems obvious to me that we need Jesus Christ to move into our homes. Fathers, will you be a Zacchaeus and let Jesus come to stay in your house?
The stakes are high. If we do not see Jesus Christ lifted up in homes across this nation the decline will continue. More and more children will grow up parented by the people they meet in chat rooms, by the inventors of violent and sexually explicit online games, by the rock stars whose dress would make Adam and Eve’s leaves look modest and whose lyrics promote every kind of ungodly behavior. No wonder schools think that it is wise to give out birth control to 12 year old girls in Oregon. Such things will not make the next generation happy and well-adjusted, but frustrated, fearful and angry. So Jesus says to every father, “I must stay at your house today.”
When Christ stays in your home, His love does what no other power known to man can do. He reveals Himself to the deepest woundedness of the human heart and pours in His healing balm of forgiveness. Like a master surgeon He does not stop at the symptoms of our spiritual and moral disease but goes to the root of the cause, to sin itself. It is clear from the Bible that sin kills, but it is not a quick death; it is a slow, painful, excruciating death. At times we may not even be aware of the disease which works like a cancer slowly growing not only in our society but in every human heart. Without Christ’s intervention we will find ourselves like the proverbial frog in the kettle, enjoying the warm water until it cooks us to death.
But even yet He still wants to come and stay at our house. His approach to sin is different than those who harangue against its vileness and condemn its practitioners. When He comes He first of all deals with the guilt and stain of sin, washing it away with His precious blood. But the story does not end there. Not only will our sins be forgiven but Jesus will work His work in us by the Holy Spirit, whether quickly or slowly, to change the destructive habits that have made a mess of our homes. This is what happened to Zacchaeus. Without any coercion by Jesus he said, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”
What proof can we give for this reality? How about this: a onetime hard living, hard drinking slave trader welcomed Jesus Christ into his home. His life was dramatically changed and he worked alongside of William Wilberforce to bring the end of slavery in England. His name was John Newton, the author of the great hymn, Amazing Grace. He once said, “I am not what I might be, I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I wish to be, I am not what I hope to be. But I thank God I am not what I once was, and I can say with the great apostle, "By the grace of God I am what I am.” Will you welcome Christ into your home?