Recently, pizza shop owner Scott Van Duzer made international news when he gave President Barack Obama a bear hug. What made this interesting is that Scott is a self reporting Republican. The controversy regarding his over the top type hug did not present itself until the days following his interaction with the commander and chief. His Republican friends and customers did not appreciate his emotional embrace. They believed he had betrayed them and was now supporting their “enemy”. His business has declined since his infamous hug shook the world of politics.
We live in a land that, for the most part, functions out of a 2 party political system. Those that are clearly defined members of their party will often view members of the opposing party as their enemy. Several years ago you could not go to any Christian function without seeing most everyone wearing a WWJD? bracelet. The bracelet was to remind the wearer and those around him; what would Jesus do? If Jesus owned a Pizza shop and President Obama walked in, would he give him a bear hug? Would he give Romney one as well?
Jesus had an interaction with a man that nobody liked. He only had “friends” because he had lots of money. He was despised by both the Jews and Romans. It would be fair to say that he most likely did not get very many hugs. His name was Zacchaeus and he was a chief tax collector and very rich. The Jews hated him because he worked for the Romans and cheated his own people. The Romans hated him because he was a Jew and that made him less than an animal. If he were alive today, he would have been hated and an enemy of both democrats and republicans.
Luke 19:1-9 Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him,[a] and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. 7 But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.”8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.”9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” New King James Version (NKJV)
How did Jesus respond to this hated man? He went to stay at his house and fellowship with him. The scripture does not clearly define who “they” was that complained about Jesus hanging out with this sinner. I would be willing to bet it was everybody. Zacchaeus was changed and salvation came to him and his house hold. Jesus didn’t change his external appearance or his heritage. He changed his heart. I can also picture Jesus giving him a big bear hug.
When I counsel with men struggling with sexual addiction, I ask God to let me see them through the lens of his wonderful Grace. Several years ago, I was counseling with a man who had committed many acts of infidelity. He asked me “How does your wife feel about you hanging out with all these perverts?” I stopped what I was doing, looked him in the eye from about 2 feet away and said “I don’t see any perverts.” He began to weep for a long period of time. When he was finished I gave him a bear hug.
We were all enemies of God until he sent His Son to bridge the gap of our sinful nature. There are no good guys and bad guys. We are all bad. It is by His Son’s righteousness that makes us acceptable to God. So, do you think Jesus would hug Obama or Romney? You bet he would but not because of whom they are. He would hug them because of who He is.