Recently, I watched the movie Concussion, starring Will Smith. Smith plays the role of Nigerian Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist who discovered what is now known as CTE – Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. This progressive degenerative disease has been linked to numerous concussions in professional athletes and Omalu’s accidental discovery has led to many changes in concussion protocols. Omalu accidentally discovered the disease after doing the autopsy of several high-profile football players and what started out as a scientific achievement, turned into a corporate strangulation. As a scientist, Omalu was intrigued by his discovery of something others had never seen before but his personal accomplishment suddenly turned into a public crucifixion.
What he experienced was the systematic strangulation applied to him by the NFL in that they tried to make his life, and his work, null and void. He was regarded as some “voodoo” doctor from Africa, who was neither American, nor was he African-American. The pressure applied to him was so great that his wife ended up having a miscarriage and Omalu blamed himself for the death of their unborn child. A man who was once full of conviction and fight now found himself weak and powerless to the powers to be. Sitting alongside his wife in the hospital room after the loss of their child, she tells him “we will have this family, it just won’t be here” and that one statement summed up the entirety of the movie for me. That one simple statement, made by a wife to her defeated husband said, we will rise above this! From her perspective, this was just another bump in the road that would not destroy, nor define their future but it would merely be a part of their journey!
His story may not be your story, but the struggle is still the same! Life doesn’t always come at us pretty but the decision has to be made at some point to Rise Above It! In order to experience what God has to offer for any of our lives, we must Rise Above It! That’s the sentiment of a man named Zacchaeus. As a tax collector, he was the prototypical outcast, but yet he was, and is, the kind of person Jesus befriends. He served in a system that was designed to oppress the poor, all the while making the rich richer. From the Jewish perspective, tax collectors were merely extensions of the Roman government and they were hated and vilified. This was his context it wasn’t his true character and it must be mentioned that what you do should never define who you are!
The text says in Luke 19:4; “so he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.” This man had one single purpose and that was too see Jesus and by climbing a tree, he exposed himself on two counts. First, it was undignified for a grown man to run and secondly, a man of his importance would certainly not climb a tree. With such stringent social codes in place, this man made the decision to do the ridiculous in order to experience the miraculous. With a crowd of people watching his every action, he exposed himself to the public ridicule that would definitely come his way by doing what he did. He climbed a sycamore tree and that’s what Jesus will do to you. He will cause you to do things you wouldn’t dream of doing!
You are not your condition, neither are you hindered by your condition! Make up your mind to rise above the barriers keeping you from experiencing life on a greater level.