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Grace Notes: To seek and to save the lost
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Who do you love?

Who are you willing to go out of your way for, to sacrifice for, the people from whom you want to hear the honest answer to "How are you?"

Chances are the number of people on that list is pretty slim. Usually, we love (really love) the people who love us, or who are good to us, or who do something for us. God has a different standard.

Jesus demonstrates that, in Luke 19: "The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (verse 10).

Those are not just words. In the story recorded in Luke 19, he shows how that looks. It’s the story of Zacchaeus, the little man who climbed a tree to see Jesus, but Jesus shows that he was the one seeking out Zacchaeus for a relationship.

If you open your Bibles and read the story, it starts with Jesus surrounded by all the important and respected and "good" people of the town. But he decides to stay at the house of the scum. That’s what it meant to be a Roman tax collector like Zacchaeus in Jewish society. In verse 7, you see them muttering it: "He has gone to be the guest of a sinner."

To their countrymen, tax collectors were seen as traitors for working with the Romans and cheats for growing rich off of this tax on them. That couldn’t have been a good feeling for this guy, hated by his neighbors, accused by his conscience, and even seemingly rejected by God. Jewish leaders wouldn’t let tax collectors even step foot in the synagogue. So this was Zacchaeus’ situation.

Maybe it’s been yours. With all the junk in our lives, you’ve probably felt rejection and isolation, and maybe even the feeling that God doesn’t care. So look at what Jesus does: He tells Zacchaeus "I’m going to your house today…Today, salvation has come to your house."

Jesus sought out this scum, this nobody. Because that’s what Jesus’ love is. It isn’t based on our goodness. It’s based on his love, his love for the unlovable.

Imagine if I offered you a crisp, clean $100 bill, no strings attached. You’d be happy to have it, wouldn’t you? Now, what if I crumpled it up and stepped on it and then picked it up and offered it to you? You’d still want it, wouldn’t you?

That piece of paper has value. It doesn’t matter what it looks like or what condition it is in.

That’s how God sees you, no matter where you are in your life, no matter what kind of junk has happened to you or what condition he finds you in. You have worth to him because he valued you enough to humble himself to take flesh and use that flesh to pay the price of his blood… the price of his life.

The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. He came to save you. Remember that and bit by bit, you’ll grow in your ability to love the world. After all, "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."