Sharing the Gospel is more than saying the right words or giving some kind of formula from scripture; sharing the gospel includes sharing our lives -- lives that have been transformed by Christ. The story of Zacchaeus provides a great example of how a life changed by Christ can change others' lives.
Jesus Transforms Lives
Before Jesus, Zacchaeus was a crooked tax collector. He would have been reviled by his neighbors and generally considered to be a bad guy. But Jesus singles him out to spend time with (much to the general grumbling of the onlookers). After encountering Jesus, Zacchaeus dramatically changes his ways and offers to give back what money he had taken, plus interest! (Read the story for yourself here.) This is a HUGE change. This story takes place not long after Jesus's discussion with the Rich Young Ruler, who resists following Jesus because he doesn't want to give up his wealth. It's easier to thread a needle with a camel, Jesus says, than for the rich to enter the Kingdom, yet Zacchaeus willingly parts with his wealth, thus displaying the amazing change Christ has brought to his life.
Some of us may be a bit discouraged at this part of the story because we can't point to a change in our lives as dramatic as Zacchaeus' was. Remember, change for the Christian is an ongoing process. Jesus isn't done changing Zacchaeus in this story and He's not done changing us either. Sometimes, you have to take the long view to see what Jesus is doing in your life, but He is transforming you into His likeness.
Our Change Impacts Others
When Zacchaeus' life changes, Jesus says that salvation has come to his whole house. On top of that, the whole neighborhood witnesses Zach's new life. Imagine the impact of Zacchaeus going humbly to the doors of those he has cheated and repaying them above and beyond what the Mosaic Law requires! People want to see the results of our faith, and when they see those results, they will be changed, too.
Our Changed Lives Point to Jesus
At the end of Zacchaeus' story, the focus returns to Jesus, who proclaims that He came to "seek and save the lost." Jesus is in the business of changing us, and He changes us in ways that are unique to His power and unique to our lives. Therefore, we each have a testimony that only we can tell that shows what only Christ can do. All people struggle with pain, anxiety, uncertainty, loss, and fear, but we have victory over these areas in Christ! When people wonder about what's different in our lives, let's point them to Christ.
Questions to Ask:
- In what ways has Christ transformed my life?
- In what areas is Christ still transforming me?
- How can my changed life change others?
- Is my life pointing to Christ?