The least likelies: Stepping outside our evangelism comfort zone

Emma Nielsen May 3, 2018


Flick through any of the gospels and you’ll quickly notice Jesus was a bit of a rebel; throwing merchants out of the temple (John 2:13-16), dressing down the religious elite (Matt. 23:13-14)…

Jesus didn’t have time for the social pecking order either. As I was writing this article, I turned to Luke 19 to look over the story of Zacchaeus again. I’ve already heard heaps of sermons on this passage I thought. No surprises here.

Boy was I wrong.

If you haven’t heard the story lately, here’s a quick recap: Jesus walked into Jericho to find an enormous crowd, all jostling to get a look at the teacher they’d heard so much about. Right at the very back of the crowd, one man was trying to see Jesus harder than anyone else. He soon realised he was too short to see over everyone, so he picked up his skirt, ran all the way around the crowd to climb a tree!

Who was this guy that was so excited to meet Jesus? A theology nerd? A priest?

Neither. This man was the very wealthy ‘chief tax collector.’ If that doesn’t seem shocking, imagine a fancy businessman from Ponsonby putting his coffee down, hitching up his designer suit, and scrabbling up a tree. I don’t know about you, but that seems a bit unusual…

As soon as Jesus saw him, He called out: “Zacchaeus, come down at once! I must stay at your house today.” (Luke 19:5) This is even weirder!

Tax collectors were hated by everyone (and when I say hated, I mean hated). Back in Roman times, tax collectors could charge as much as they liked. As long as Rome got their cut, they turned a blind eye to any extra you collected on the side. It’s a bit like Jesus showing up on Wall Street around 2011 and offering forgiveness to the head of Lehman Brothers. We wouldn’t expect that (or find it easy…)

One Tandem staff worker was really challenged to step outside his comfort zone recently.  Take a look at his amazing story below!

    I was out sharing one afternoon when saw some guys dressed like gangsters. I was a bit scared to talk to     them if I’m honest!

    I walked up, told them I was from Hamilton and asked if I could sit with them. They said it was fine. Then, I     pulled out the big guns and told them I was from a Christian group called Student Life. “What do you think     about Christianity?” I asked

    One of the three boys started to become really aggressive and wanted me to leave; but the other two     wanted me to stay. They started asking me heaps of questions about who God is, why did he die for us,     what is Hell, what is sin…They had so many questions! I could see their real hunger for the truth. When their     friend tried to get them to leave, they told him to go away because they wanted to hear what I had to say!

    The thing that stuck with me afterwards was the fact that I didn’t want to talk to these boys just because of     the way they dressed, even though we know that to God all people are equal! It really made me think. How     many times do we deny people the chance to hear the greatest message ever told because they are     different to us? No-one will hear unless we tell them (Romans 10:14).”

Is there anyone in your life you’ve been hesitant to talk about Jesus with? There’s certainly someone coming to mind for me right now. I challenge you to join with me and send them the free falling plates video? A quick four minute summary of the gospel, it’s a great conversation starter. Let us know how it went!

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