My daughter and I recently attended a local production of a broadway musical. It is a special delight to go with her. She is a talented actor and singer in her own right, and a student of the American musical. By student, I mean someone who follows her passion for this art form, and who watches and listens, and reads as much as she can about it. Her deep interest, and growing knowledge fuel our conversations about the plays we see.
During our post-play analysis, we noted the production lacked a certain spark. Sets, costumes, lighting, and musical accompaniment were all top-notch. So what was missing?
The actors were technically competent, and without exception, talented singers. But there was an absence of believable romantic tension between the actors cast as the young couple destined to fall in love, despite their differences. It is a common device in this genre, to have an unlikely romance emerge, that gradually bridges the apparent large gap between two lead characters. Often this romance, and the efforts to further or hinder it, provide energy that drives much of the larger drama.
We agreed there did not seem to be any “spark” or “chemistry” between the young couple. Our critical dissection led me to thinking, a day or two later, about times when I met someone who seemed a potential new friend, or even a romantic interest, only to notice later that we were comfortable with each other, but not all that drawn to each other.
Have you had the experience of meeting someone and wondering why the acquaintance does not blossom into something more? The “chemistry” between people can be mysterious!
What is the spark? Why do we grow to love certain people in a deeper, different way, and not others? We can’t make love happen. We don’t have a clinical, scientific way to predict when it will grow into something life-changing. But we can usually see when it does!
Jesus is quoted as saying that you can know a tree by its fruits. The presence of love has an effect on what grows between people. Absence of love also has recognizable results.
The story in Luke 19:1-10 is about an encounter between Jesus and a tax-collector named Zacchaeus. It is not a romance, but it demonstrates what is possible when love is present.
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way.
When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.”
So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.”
Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”