Picking up from my last post, Jesus was going to Zacchaeus’ house. . . .

Have you ever heard the notion that after a certain age (maybe it’s getting later since 50 is the new 40!) people just don’t change. We get stuck in certain ruts, our reputations are set, and we just don’t change. Don’t tell that to Zacchaeus!

My early years created interesting motivations in my life journey. On one hand, I had a sense that I would never measure up. Life seemed stacked against me. We moved around a lot making it difficult for me to get traction socially or to be successful in my endeavors involving sports, education, or music. I was a late bloomer and being four foot eleven inches in early high school put me at a disadvantage. Even the religious culture in which I grew up taught me that a relationship with God was predicated on a level of morality and spirituality that I did not possess.

I was out for a run recently, listening to worship music on my iPod. I was talking to the Lord, asking why I was feeling distant from Him. I acknowledged that my times with Him had been rushed, and I had been feeling the distance that comes with lack of contact.

As I ran, it was as if He replied, “You feel distant from me because you have been relating to me in the third person.”

Over the last few weeks, we’ve talked about what it means to be “holy,” the importance of Christ-followers being different than the world around them. Yet, if this wonderful difference is only experienced among fellow believers—in the holy huddle—a needy world will never experience the life giving difference.

One of the most striking ways that Christ-followers can show they are different is humbly asking for forgiveness.

Several years ago, I had a Bible study with some high school seniors. One night we ended up talking about how we should handle it when we “mess up.” I mentioned to the guys that the six words I had said most to my kids over the past 18 years were, “I’m sorry, will you forgive me?” One of the guys stared at me in disbelief. Later he told me why he was dumb-founded: “My dad has never said those words to me!”

As followers of Jesus, we are all called to holiness (see 1 Peter 1:15). But I know I don’t get “it” right every time. And I can certainly find a chorus of friends and co-workers who would echo a hearty “amen.” The word holiness means “set apart or purposefully different.” It doesn’t mean “perfection.”

There are two things that can keep us from being fruitful among our friends who are yet to follow and know Jesus. These two simple ideas are reflected in this passage from Peter, the disciple:

Sometimes the shortest distances are the hardest to cross. I’ve often said that the longest 30 yards is the distance between our front door and the front door of our neighbor!

Where do your feet lead you? Based on the accounts in the Gospels, you would have to imagine that Jesus’ feet were worn, calloused, and often dusty. He walked long paths everywhere He went. He walked more than 80 miles between His home area of Galilee to Jerusalem. He took the dusty road through Samaria, rather than the easier, more lush passages near the Jordan. He walked to the places the religious leaders didn’t go—among those who were not of the approved establishment—across to the Decapolis and to modern day Syria.

What do your hands say about you? Do your hands transmit pain or comfort? God’s hands communicate compassion and the desire to reach out to us.

Leprosy in first century Israel was a cruel disease with no apparent cure. But the disfigurement of a leper’s body was only part of the pain they experienced. Jewish religious rules identified lepers as “unclean” and caused the uncaring isolation of these sick and vulnerable people.