Anybody hanging on your sleeve?

Just in case you have not been reading the book of Zechariah lately, let me give you a brief reminder of what it’s about.  The main theme of the book is that God is at work in the midst of the exilic period and plans to live again with His people in Jerusalem after He saves them from their enemies and cleanses them of their sins.  There is a lot of redemption and hope poured into its message.  Here’s a verse that intrigues me… “The Lord of Hosts says this: ‘In those days, 10 men from nations of every language will grab the robe of a Jewish man tightly, urging: Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”  Capture that image for a moment.  People from every race, ethnicity, language, and gender will take the sleeve of a righteous Jew because they have heard of the power and character of God.  They want to draw near to God and they believe that by joining themselves to one of His followers, they will likely find their way.

Strip away all the Old Testament talk of exile & prophets and contextualize this verse to modern day life.  The principle remains the same.  Men and woman who are searching for hope, for acceptance, for love, for grace… they will turn to authentic followers of Christ.  True believers walk according to the Spirit within them.  They are people of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.  They model Christ so clearly that people would wait in line just to be close to them because they are close to Jesus.

Here’s the problem… a lot of us who claim the Christian faith, lack the Christian character.  Because we are not walking in the footprints of Jesus, no one around us wants to step in cadence with us.  The problem is not with the Gospel we proclaim or the Savior we love… the problem is that our proclamation is devoid of truth and our love is lacking a sense of passion.  Stop and look.  Is anyone clinging to your sleeve because they have heard that God is with you?  How we should wish that our words were true and our actions were noble.  But most of us are just not distinctive from the world around us.  (I’m not saying we should have an arrogant faith that holds us aloof and allows us to look with disdain at those around us.  We are no better than the people we offer our condescension.)  Our distinctiveness should arise from our realization that we are sinners saved by grace… that we have something we didn’t earn… something we have no right to hold.  It is that saving grace that should teach us to look at others, not with judgment, but with a hope that they too will one day claim that same grace.

Maybe selfishness is the greatest sin.  Maybe we really do want to have something that others don’t.  Maybe we really do want to think that we are better than others or somehow more spiritual.  I have to admit that I can’t seem to find anyone chasing me down these days to ask if I know Jesus.  No one is clinging to my sleeve hoping to find Jesus because I seem to resemble Him so closely.  So my prayer is this… “Lord help me to cling to your sleeve so tightly that my heart begins to change, my attitudes begin to soften, and my actions begin to express grace.”  It is only when I truly dedicate my journey to a passionate pursuit of Jesus that I might one day look around and discover that someone else wants to be on the same path.