April 21, 1991 | Ray Pritchard
This is an appropriate text for the first Sunday after April 15. I hope you got your taxes done on time. I told you two weeks ago I was going to turn mine in and I did. I finished last Monday, the 15th, at 1:30 P.M., which beat the previous year by about 8 hours.
It’s good, in light of this time of year, to read the story of a tax collector who was up a tree. This is one of those stories that our children know better than we do. Were we to go back into the east wing of the church, we would discover that the kids back there know this story much better than we do. When we read it, because we’ve read it so many times, we tend to pass over it. But you ask your kids about this story and they will begin to sing, “Zaccheus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he. He climbed up into a sycamore tree for the Lord he would to see. And as the Savior passed that way, he looked up in the tree and he said, ’Zaccheus, you come down, for I’m going to your house today. For I’m going to your house today.’”
Of all the Bible stories in the New Testament, this is one of the best-known and best-loved. And this morning, what I would like to do is take this familiar Bible story which we have heard since we were children and draw from it several lessons for our edification.
Lesson # 1: What Money Can’t Buy 1-2
Verses 1 and 2 introduce us to the circumstances of this story. “Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.” You need to know that this episode takes place at the end of Jesus’ ministry. He is only days from Jerusalem and crucifixion. He has been to Jericho many times. But this time he has come for the final time.
Jericho was one of the most important cities of ancient Israel. Located in the tropical plain about six miles west of the Jordan River, it was a center of trade, commerce, business, industry and agriculture. It had been a very important city for many generations. In fact, well before the time of Christ, the Romans knew and valued the city of Jericho. Marc Antony once gave the city of Jericho to Cleopatra as a gift. She promptly turned around and sold it to get the money, but that’s another story. King Herod built a hippodrome there, and also a summer palace.
The city of Jericho was known for two things above everything else. It was known for the balsam which was grown there and sold throughout the ancient near east. It was also known for the growing, harvesting and production of dates from the date palm trees. They were sold and shipped to all the countries around Israel.
One other note. There was a major road which ran from the south to the north through Jericho. If you were coming from the north down along the western side of the Jordan River and you wanted to go to Jerusalem you would inevitably go through the city of Jericho. From the north or the east, if you were coming through Damascus, you would come through Jericho. From the south you would cross over the Dead Sea and up through Jericho to Jerusalem.
What that means is this. Jericho in Jesus’ day was a good place to be because if you knew what you were doing, you could make a lot of money. It was a good place to be if you had a good idea and were willing to work hard to make your idea become reality. A lot of things went to Jericho, a lot of things came out.
Jesus Meets the IRS
So it was that Jesus has come to Jericho on a sunny day in March on his way to Jerusalem for the last time. By now, he’s well known. Everybody either hates him or loves him. After three and a half years of ministry no one can ignore him. And when the word begins to spread that this strange, miracle-working rabbi from Galilee has come to Jericho again, people by the hundreds and perhaps by the thousands flocked down those narrow dirt streets to meet Jesus as he enters the city. Oh, they want to talk with him. Oh, they want to hear him tell the stories. Oh, they want to touch the sleeve of his garment. Perhaps he will work a miracle for them.
Jesus has come to Jericho amid the greatest of all possible fanfare. Everybody has heard he was coming. Everybody, including the most hated man in town. A man by the name of Zaccheus. Verse 2 tells us that “He was the chief tax collector and was wealthy.” Luke is telling us that he was wealthy because he was the chief tax collector. In those days the Romans controlled the taxation of ancient Israel, and they set it up this way. They divided Israel into districts. There were three–one in Caesarea, one in Capernaum and one in Jericho. They would hire a man to be something like a District Commissioner. The man chosen was usually the person who had bid the most for the right to be the head tax collector. That was Zaccheus, which means he had a group of people working for him who themselves would collect the taxes. Now it was a simple fact in the first century that the tax collectors were greedy extortioners. They were thugs who used pressure and intimidation to extort money from the common people of Israel. In fact, the ancient writers tell us that Israel was among the most taxed of all nations in the first century.
Zaccheus was the head of the tax collectors. Now, please notice that Zaccheus has three strikes against him. Number one, he was a tax collector. Tax collectors back then weren’t liked any better than tax collectors are liked today. Number two, he was a crook and a cheat as we will find out later in the story. Number three, he was working for the hated Roman empire. So we have a crooked tax collector working for the enemy. They hated his guts. They couldn’t stand the sight of him. He represented everything that was wrong and bad about life as they knew it. When they saw Zaccheus coming, the people of Jericho wanted to get away because they didn’t like the sight of this man.
The system worked like this: Rome would say to a “District Commissioner” like Zaccheus, “We want you to collect taxes of such-and-such amount, and send that amount to us.” So the Romans would assign the amount and the tax collector would set about collecting that amount. But there was one hitch: Most of the “District Commissioners” would collect more than the designated amount–sending this amount to Rome and putting the rest in their pockets. Thus incurring the wrath and hatred and displeasure of everyone in the town. Which is why Zaccheus is wealthy and rich and despised and hated. Zaccheus has learned the hard way one of the most basic lessons of life: You can be rich and not be happy. You can be wealthy and not be loved. You can be successful and not be satisfied.
Al Kasha is a gifted Christian songwriter in Hollywood. He’s won two Oscars, one for the song “There’s Got to Be a Morning After” from the Poseidon Adventure and one for the song “We’ll Never Love This Way Again” from the Towering Inferno. What’s life like in Tinseltown?
I find that more than any other place in the world, people are most responsive to Christ here. You think they’re most loved, but this is the first place that they’re most unloved. One day in the trade papers they’re told they’re big stars. The next day they’re told they’re nothing. The question that’s always asked in Hollywood is, “What are you doing now?” They don’t ask who you are; they ask what you’re doing. “You mean you’re not doing anything new?” That means you’ve gotten cold. It’s a very fickle town.
What’s worse than blowing up a balloon and puncturing it every day? That’s what this town is. It’s blown-up balloons. (Worldwide Challenge, Sept-Oct, 1985, p.10)
Did you see the Chicago Sun-Times this morning? There’s a review of a book about success, a major story about men in the last decade in America who have amassed great fortunes only to blow it all once they got to the top. And the article names Michael Milkin, Donald Trump, Pete Rose and Ivan Boesky. Men who had everything that the world considers successful and when they reached the top, it wasn’t enough. They had to cheat and break the rules to try to get more.
He’s worth millions. He snaps his Midas fingers and people jump. He has a trophy wife or mistresses. Or both.
Yet just when he seems to have it all, the castle comes crashing down and everything he touches turned to garbage. (Chicago Sun-Times, April 21, 1991, p. 37)
You can be rich and not be happy. You can be wealthy and not be loved.
Lesson Number one. What money can’t buy. Zaccheus had learned it well.
Lesson # 2: No shortage of hungry hearts 3-4
Zaccheus had a problem. Verse 3 says he wanted “to see who Jesus was. But being a short man he could not because of the crowd.” That’s one problem I personally have never had. Zaccheus had the problem of being too short to see Jesus. I don’t know how tall he was–probably around 5 feet or a little less. I don’t think he was any bigger than that. He was a short, rich man who was the most hated man in town. And Zaccheus wants to see this Jesus so he’s pushing his way down the street. He tries to stand on his tiptoes but that doesn’t help. He starts pushing, “Excuse me. I’ve got to get through.” When people turn and see it’s Zaccheus they spit right in his face. Do you think they’re going to let the tax collector through? Not this year. Not any year. They hate this man. Zaccheus can’t fight his way through the crowd. And so Zaccheus, in a show of determination and a triumph of ingenuity, sees Jesus in the crowd moving his way slowly through the streets of Jericho. Spying a sycamore tree up ahead, he runs down the street, comes to the tree, which was something like an oak tree with limbs that came down near the ground. He climbs up into the tree and drapes himself over a limb and waits for Jesus to come his way.
Have you ever asked yourself what made Zaccheus want to see Jesus? He had it all–money and all that money could buy–and still he wants to see Jesus. We talk about the self-made man. We talk about the people at the top as if they don’t have any needs or desires. What was it that made Zaccheus want to see Jesus? I think he’d heard about him. I think he was curious about this man from Galilee. Do you suppose Zaccheus had heard through the tax collectors’ grapevine about what had happened when Jesus met Levi? He was another tax collector equally hated and despised and when Jesus had dinner with him, he said, “Levi, why don’t you come and follow me?” (By the way, what was Levi’s name when he became a follower of Jesus? Matthew.) Do you suppose that Zaccheus had heard that Jesus had called one of his colleagues into his ministry? Do you think it’s possible that Zaccheus for all his money had a hole in his heart that made him so desperate that he would do anything just to see this man?
Most Hated Man in Jericho
I submit something for your consideration. If you had taken a poll that day and asked, “Name the most hated man in Jericho,” Zaccheus would have been named on 99% of the ballots. Virtually everybody would have said, “This is the worst man in town.” And then you’d ask the second question, “Who is the least likely person to want to see Jesus?” Zaccheus would once again have been at the top of the list. People had written off this crooked tax collector long ago. But when Jesus comes down he sees a man up a tree so desperate to see him. It’s the man everybody hates.
Sometimes in our effort to share the gospel we get so discouraged. We think our friends and loved ones are never going to listen. We try to share Christ at work. We try to share Christ with our friends and our neighbors. We try to build bridges. We try to get to know people who don ’t know the Lord. We get discouraged when they don’t respond quickly. Sometimes they go months and years without responding at all. We look at them and we conclude that they are hardened to God. Zaccheus reminds us not to jump to hasty conclusions. If you had looked on the outside you would have written him off because his society had written him off. But in his heart, the Holy Spirit was working, waiting for the day when Jesus would arrive.
What was it Al Kasha said? “I find that more than any place in the entire world people are most responsive to Christ here.” Where’s that? Hollywood. The place that we are used to considering a moral cesspool. He says they are more responsive to Christ there than anywhere. Why? Because they’ve got the power and the glory and the glitter and they’ve found out it’s not enough. Thank God, there are hungry hearts everywhere. Just because you don’t see the signs on the outside doesn’t mean that on the inside your friends and loved ones haven’t climbed up in a tree to see Jesus as he passes by. It may not look on the outside like anything is happening, but on the inside, something is.
Lesson # 3: Salvation Made Simple 5-6
Here comes the crowd down the street, Jesus in the middle. Great commotion. Great excitement. Verse 5: “When Jesus reached the spot (that is the spot underneath the tree where Zaccheus was) he looked up and said to him, ’Zaccheus, come down immediately.’” How did he know Zaccheus’ name? That’s a good question. I don’t totally know the answer. Did somebody spot Zaccheus up there and throw a rock at him and hit him on the head? Did somebody yell, “Get that creep out of here?” Had Jesus heard about him somehow? Or did Jesus recognize a hungry heart? Study it in the gospels. Whenever Jesus calls a person by name, something is about to happen. Our Lord never uses anybody’s name in vain. “Zaccheus, you come down because I’m going to your house today.” If you like to write words in the margin of your Bible, write beside verse 5 the word “Grace.” Beside verse 6, write the word “Faith.” “So he came down and welcomed him gladly.”
This is the doctrine of the free grace of God. This is the story of what salvation is all about. Zaccheus is up in a tree. He’s interested in Jesus. He’s watching and here comes Jesus. He stops and he calls him by name and says, “Zaccheus, come on down.” That’s the grace of God. That’s where salvation begins. Listen, Zaccheus had nothing with which to recommend himself to God. Zaccheus had done nothing to deserve an invitation from the Master. Zaccheus was the worst man in the city. And that’s the man that Jesus singles out. That’s the unmerited grace of God. “Zaccheus, Zaccheus, you wicked old tax collector. Come on down. We’re going to eat supper together.” That’s the grace of God and the Bible says that “Zaccheus came on down and he received him gladly.” That’s the human response to the grace of God. That’s what salvation is. Zaccheus had nothing to recommend himself to Jesus. He had done nothing good in his past, nothing at all.
Do you want to know how to be born again? When Jesus calls you, answer him gladly. How do you know when he calls? Believe me, you’ll know it when you hear his voice speaking to your heart. When you want to leave your life of sin, when you are ready, come on down and receive him gladly. You say, “I’m not good enough.” Neither was Zaccheus. “I’ve been a bad man.” Zaccheus was bad too. “I’m an outcast.” So was Zaccheus. He’s the man that Jesus picked out. Salvation made simple. “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.” This is a wonderful picture of the grace of God saving the worst of sinners.
Lesson # 4: Money for the Master 7-8
When Zaccheus came down and welcomed Jesus gladly; he not only welcomed him personally but he said, “Jesus, come to my house.” I believe that between verse six and seven they’ve had a meal together. We pick up the story in verse 7, “All the people saw this and began to mutter, ’He has gone to be the guest of a “sinner.’” If you have the NIV, notice the quotation marks around the word “sinner.” That means a big sinner, a gross sinner, a terrible sinner, a person we would never associate with.
Don’t you know that this upset the country club crowd? Don’t you know they said, “Why, Jesus, I would have taken you out to the Jericho Country Club. We would have had some grilled red snapper. It would have been great. The service is wonderful out there. Jesus, why are you messing around with a tax collector? This is the worst man in town.” They began to mutter. Isn’t it true that Pharisees then and now are offended at the people Jesus chooses to be his followers? Isn’t it true, then as now, that some people are offended by the fact that our Lord loved to be with the worst of sinners?
A New Man With An Old Reputation
Zaccheus had a problem. The problem was this: He had been a crook for many years. That’s how he had gotten his money. Now Zaccheus and Jesus are eating together. The people are muttering. The problem is that people are looking at the old Zaccheus. They’re judging him by the old standards. When they see Zaccheus, all they see is the man he used to be. They don’t understand that the man who came down from the tree was a brand new Zaccheus with a brand new life and a brand new set of spiritual values. All they see is the old Zaccheus and they don’t understand why Jesus would want to spend any time with the old Zaccheus.
If you’re Zaccheus, how do you show to the world that you’ve become a new man by the power of Jesus Christ? How do you do it? That often happens when people come into the church from a sordid or questionable background. They weren’t raised in Sunday School, they didn’t come up through “our system” and when they come into the Christian church, they wonder to themselves, “Am I really good enough to be here?” They feel like they’re not worthy to belong. Isn’t that a problem that people often have when they come to Christ? How do you demonstrate the reality of your faith?
Verse 8 tells us what he did: “Zaccheus stood up after the meal and said to the Lord, ’Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything I will pay back four times the amount.’” By the way, this is the only place in the Bible where Zaccheus is recorded saying anything. Not bad for a new convert.
Do you understand what he’s saying here? “I’ve got a lot of money but I’ve just met you. And here and now, Lord, this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to take half of it right off the top and I’m going to give it to the poor. I’m going to use the other half to pay back anybody I’ve cheated. And just so they’ll know I’m serious about it, I’ll pay them back four-fold.” When he says, “If I’ve cheated anyone,” what he means is, “If I have cheated anybody … and I have.” He is admitting his past misdeeds to Jesus. And he’s saying, “Lord, anytime I can find anybody in the future that I have cheated in the past, I’m going to pay him back four-fold. If I have cheated him out of a thousand dollars I will pay him one thousand dollars plus four thousand dollars on top of that–a total of five thousand dollars.”
New Life at the Point of Old Weakness
Does that seem radical to you? Well, it depends on your point of view. If you’re a cheating tax collector and your life has just been revolutionized by Jesus Christ, why shouldn’t you do that? The greater question is this: How do you show the reality of Christ in your life? The answer for you would be the same as it was for Zaccheus. Here’s the principle. The reality of your new life in Jesus Christ will be seen at precisely the point of your old weakness. His problem was money, greed and lust. Therefore, since that was the point of the weakness, that’s the point at which his new life had to be demonstrated.
It wouldn’t do any good for Zaccheus to say, “Lord, I’m not going to curse any more” because cursing wasn’t his problem. It wouldn’t do to say, “Lord I’m going to be a nice guy” because being a jerk wasn’t his problem. It wouldn’t do for him to say, “Lord, I’m going to give more offerings at the temple” because I’m sure he was a religious Jew. That wasn’t the point of his weakness. The point of his weakness was money. Greed for money. And nobody would believe that he had really changed unless he had changed the point of his past weakness.
When you come to Jesus Christ, if your problem is gossip, if that area doesn’t change, don’t think anybody is going to buy your Christianity just because you come to church. If you gossip and that’s your weakness, if that doesn’t change, then coming to church isn’t going to make any difference at all. It’s not simply that you add on something to your past weaknesses; real conversion is shown when you change in the future in what used to be your weak point. If pornography is your problem, if sleeping around is your problem, then that’s the area that has to change. If that doesn’t change, then singing in the choir isn’t going to convince anybody. If lust is your problem then that’s the area that has to change. If bitterness is your problem then that’s the area that has to change. If a bad temper is your problem then that’s the area that has to change. If treating people like dirt is your problem, then that’s the area that has to change. If being disrespectful to those who are in authority over you is your problem, when you come to Jesus Christ that’s the area where the change has to be demonstrated. That’s a tremendously important principle.
Restitution–Then and Now
Notice how Zaccheus demonstrated the change. He made voluntary restitution. He said, “I’m giving half to the poor.” That takes care of the future. When he said, “If I’ve cheated anybody, I’m going to pay them back four times,” that takes care of the past. His present is okay. He is taking steps to take care of the future and the past.
This whole idea of restitution seems odd to us–musty and ancient and somewhat irrelevant. Do you know what I found out this week? I found out that the idea of restitution would not have been unusual to the Jews at all. It’s only unusual to us because we don’t do it. The Old Testament discusses the concept many times. It’s in Exodus. It’s in Numbers. It’s in Leviticus. It’s in Deuteronomy. It’s in II Samuel. It’s in Ezekiel. For instance, according to Exodus 22 if you stole somebody’s sheep, you had to pay them back four times. If you stole somebody’s oxen, you had to pay them back five times because oxen were good not only for their hides and fur but they were also good to pull the plow. According to Numbers if you stole certain items you were required to pay back what you stole plus 20 percent of the value. In some places it was double. In some places it was triple. In some places it was four times. In some places it was five times. That was standard practice in the Old Testament. You made restitution for what you had done wrong.
That’s what Zaccheus was doing here–voluntarily. Do I hear someone saying, “Thank God, we’re under grace, not law, so we don’t have to do that anymore?” That’s a theological cop-out. It says more about us than it does about the Bible.
Why Restitution is Good For You
There are at least three reasons why restitution is good for you. First, it’s good because it shows that you are really sorry for what you did. I’m not just talking about restitution for money, or things you stole, but people you’ve hurt by what you’ve said, by your attitudes, by your broken relationships. People you’ve treated like dirt in the past and now you want to live for Christ. Those bridges are out and you’re going to have to go back and rebuild them. You need to make restitution. It’s good, number one, because it shows that you are really sorry for what you have done.
Second, restitution is good because it makes it easier for the people you’ve hurt to forgive you. People don’t want to hear pious words; they want to see your changed life exhibited by changed behavior. What better exhibition than making amends for the things you have said and done that have hurt people?
Third, if you make restitution it makes you much less likely to make the same mistake again because it’s cost you so dearly. Restitution costs something. You have to humble yourself and admit your wrongdoing. It isn’t easy, which is why most people don’t do it. That’s also why it is so good for you. Make restitution once or twice and you’ll think twice before doing the same dumb thing again.
That’s what Zaccheus is doing here. At the point of his weakness, he is demonstrating new life in Christ by voluntarily giving his money away to the poor and making restitution four times over.
The Eighth Step
This week I borrowed a book from Bill Miller called The AA Way of Life. Are you familiar with the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous? Millions of people have been helped by following the twelve steps. Listen to step 4: Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of your own life. Take a look in the mirror and see yourself as you really are. Step number 8: Make a list of all the persons you have harmed and be willing to make amends to them all. Step Number 9: Make direct amends to such people whenever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.
Step 4: Take an inventory
Step 8: Make a list of the people you’ve hurt
Step 9: Make amends
This is what Zaccheus is doing. This is what the book says on page 187:
In making amends it is seldom wise to approach the individual who still smarts from our injustice to him and to announce that we have gone religious. This might be called leading with the chin. Why lay ourselves open to being branded fanatics or religious bores? If we do this we may kill a future opportunity to carry a beneficial message. But the man who hears our amends is sure to be impressed with our sincere desire to set right a wrong. He is going to be more interested in a demonstration of good will than in talk of spiritual discoveries.
It’s not what you say, it’s what you do. And don’t say it until your life can back it up.
“Repentance, Repentance, Repentance”
Two weeks ago I mentioned the remarkable story of Lee Atwater’s conversion. The “Bad Boy of GOP Politics” died on Good Friday. In the midst of fighting a brain tumor he came to Christ. At his funeral service, Harry Dent, who was an advisor to President Nixon in the 70s and who himself found Christ nearly twelve years ago, stood up and said, “A lot of people wonder if Lee Atwater’s confession of faith is real. Let me tell you about Lee Atwater’s life the last few months. It was characterized by one word. Repentance. Repentance. Repentance.” He told how Lee Atwater had written letters of apology to Michael Dukakis, and Tom Turnipseed, a politician in South Carolina, to Ron Brown, the head of the Democratic Party, asking forgiveness for his bad and hateful attitude and for the things he had done in the past. Harry Dent said, “That’s the evidence of a changed life. A man who repented to the point that before he died he made right the wrongs he had done. He made amends with the people he had hurt.” (Source: World magazine, April 13, 1991, pp. 16-17; Harry Dent interview on Primetime America)
You can talk about faith all you want. But unless your faith is backed up by the evidence of a changed life no one will listen. Why is that? Because we are justified before God by faith but we are justified before men by works. Why? Because only God can see our faith. The only thing men can see is our works. There’s no contradiction there. Talk all you want about your faith but then show it by the way you live. Specifically by the change that Jesus had made at the point of your past weakness.
Lesson # 5: Our Number One Priority 9-10
“Jesus said to him, ’Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a Son of Abraham.’” I’ll bet the country club crowd in Jericho couldn’t stand that. They were offended that Jesus would consider a man like Zaccheus as a Son of Abraham. They thought they had it made and they had already counted Zaccheus out. But the truth of the matter is, Jesus was saying that a son of Abraham is not somebody who has the right kind of birth certificate. A son of Abraham is the one who has the kind of faith Abraham had. Zaccheus had that faith demonstrated by his changed life.
Verse 10 gives us the moral of the story: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Why did Jesus come? Why is the church here? The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost. It’s a lesson to us about why the church is in the world. As the Savior came to seek and to save that which was lost, Exhibit A would be Zaccheus. Even so, the reason the church is here is to follow the Son of God as we seek and save that which is lost.
If Jesus Came to Oak Park
Don’t you understand? It’s easy for us to mutter and complain and say, “I’m not sure we want those Zaccheus types here in our church. I’d rather they go someplace else.” If we are not willing to do what Jesus did, we can hardly call ourselves his disciples. If we as a church have decided that only the good, the pure, the righteous and the holy can come into this place, then we’re not worthy of the name Christian. That’s really the challenge–to follow Jesus in this world.
Let me leave you with this. If Jesus were to come to Oak Park today where would we find him? Where would we find him? You wouldn’t find him in the churches. He wouldn’t be here. That’s not where he was two thousand years ago. You’d find him out with the homeless, out with the hungry, out with the hurting, out with the drug abusers, down in Austin helping the people who have AIDS. He’d be out talking to those guys who are sleeping around every night of the week. He’d be talking to those women who feel like there’s no hope of a change for them. That’s where Jesus would be if he came to Oak Park today.
And I’ll give you something else to think about. As long as the church stays in the church, Jesus is not there because that’s not where Jesus is. If the church wants Jesus, the church has to go out where Jesus is. Out into the world, because that’s where he is this morning.
What I want to suggest to you is that many of you face the challenge of doing what Zaccheus did. You need to join the ROZA – The Royal Order of Zaccheus Anonymous and take seriously the challenge of going out of this place and showing to the world that Jesus Christ has really made the difference. Some of you this morning need to take Step Number Four seriously –Make a searching moral inventory. Where do you really stand before God? You need to take Number Eight seriously–Make a list of the people we have hurt and offended. And you need to take Number Nine seriously–Resolve before God that as far as possible we will make things right with the people we have hurt so badly. Until you do that we’re not going to get very far in you Christian life. It’s just that basic. But when you do, you will be providing to the world living proof of two things. First, living proof of why Jesus came into the world. Second, living proof of the difference Jesus Christ can make when he comes into a life.
God help us to be that living proof wherever we go this week. Amen.