Sameo is twelve. He works for his dad–as a thief. Father is addicted to cocaine and the son steals to support dad’s habit. The family migrated from Nigeria to America to “find a better life.” It only got worse. Sameo’s sure he will get caught sooner or later. His friends know what he is doing. They think it is “cool.” He knows older people. But he doesn’t like his life and wants to change. But his dad won’t let him in the house without either money or drugs, both if possible. When he does “well,” his dad affirms him. When he fails in his adventures, he sleeps outside. Not the life you’d pick for your son.
The church is the only organization that exists for its non-members. We live for the lost, for those who hate us, who have no time for us, who curse us. When we react to them, we prove their assumptions. Some churches are not the church. They exist primarily for those who are in. They draw a circle, and thieves and prostitutes are outside.
When the Jericho community drew the circle, Zacchaeus the thief definitely stood outside. That is where Jesus goes. He came “to seek and save the lost,” not to only spend time with the found. He is the Shepherd, and he by nature “leaves the 99 and goes after the one that is lost until he finds it” (Luke 15:4). Notice that Zacchaeus “was seeking to see who Jesus was but on account of the crowd he could not” (Luke 19:3). Many lost people are more attracted to Jesus than to his people. Jesus turned the tables on the crowd and the wee little man by saying, “I must stay at your house today” (5). What a compelling seeker! The crowd grumbled (7), and Zac repented.
The insiders didn’t like a sinner crashing the party. How disgusting. An unnamed woman aimed right for Jesus. Not what the insiders or the disciples expected–but Jesus did. Her love touched him; their caution did not. Neither did their aversion regarding a Samaritan woman who had five husbands–and one Savior, enough to stage a mighty revival!
Sameo needs help. So does his dad. Reaching out and demonstrating love could pull the family into the circle. But it will mean taking some risks. The cartel doesn’t want to lose its customers. And Sameo wants somewhere to sleep at night.
I made up this story, but it fits 10,000 families around the world. Thank God the church exists where Sameo’s are struggling in the darkness. Praise God people are reaching out and drawing the circle wider than ever before–to includes thieves and prostitutes.
Dear Church, pray for God to give you strategies, so you can also leave the 99. They are going to make it. We need to find the one, Sameo, his dad, his younger sibling. What could be more exciting?!!