If I Have Cheated Anyone

Cheated Anyone
Could we even imagine what revival and conversion even look like?

I attended a small local church prayer meeting recently where, among other things, some of us prayed for revival, conviction and conversion in our area.

When I hear prayers like that , I often wonder if people know what ‘revival’ even looks like – or would recognize it if they saw it.

Few of us have seen revival on a large scale; in fact few of us encounter it directly and powerfully on an individual and personal level.

The New Testament portrayal of conversion is a total reversal, a ‘turning around’ in one’s life.

Paul is one such example of a complete shifting of the full energy and passion of one’s life.

But we see many others, from the blustering and temperamental Peter becoming an evangelist to the ‘sons of thunder’ behind their load and brutish ways to become carriers of compassion.

Among these, one of these stands out as a striking example of a public conversion.

You can find it in Luke 19:1-9.

Here we see Zacchaeus, who has made a good living by demanding ‘just a little extra’ from his clients, but is eager to meet Jesus and turn his life over to God.

Also by Morf: How to Lose an Election

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When conversion hits him, he realizes with a shock, not only that he has cheated people, but what he should do about it.

Jesus doesn’t need to tell him, he just knows. He says “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.”

Could you imagine what a true conversion of someone from Countrywide, Bank of America, Chase Bank, Goldman Sachs or the Walton family would look like?

Could we even picture what it would be like if even one of these corrupt and rapacious mortgage companies repaid their victims four times what they had been cheated?

Could we even imagine what the trillions of dollars locked away in Swiss banks, the Cayman Islands and other tax hideaways would do if set to work in our economy?

Could any of us imagine what a quadruple refund of every late fee, penalty or service charge would do for us and our economy? We should, because this is what conversion looks like.

In fact Jesus says (Luke 19:9) that this is what salvation looks like.

Yes, we know what ‘revival’ looks like – it looks like restoration, justice and generosity. Pray for it only if you dare.


Morf Morford considers himself a free-range Christian who is convinced that God expects far more of us than we can ever imagine, but somehow thinks God knows more than we do. To pay his bills, he’s been a teacher for adults (including those in his local county jail) in a variety of setting including Tribal colleges, vocational schools and at the university level in the People’s Republic of China. Within an academic context, he also writes an irreverent ESL blog and for the Burnside Writers Collective. As he’s getting older, he finds himself less tolerant of pettiness and dairy products.

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About the Author

Morf Morford

Morf MorfordMorf Morford considers himself a free-range Christian who is convinced that God expects far more of us than we can ever imagine, but somehow thinks God knows more than we do. To pay his bills, he’s been a teacher for adults (including those in his local county jail) in a variety of setting including Tribal colleges, vocational schools and at the university level in the People’s Republic of China. Within an academic context, he also writes an irreverent ESL blog and for the Burnside Writers Collective. As he’s getting older, he finds himself less tolerant of pettiness and dairy products.View all posts by Morf Morford →

  • 22044

    Good ideas, but wrong targets (they are symptoms of a bigger problem).
    Pray and work instead for a federal government that quits excessive taxation, increasing its centralized power, & granting favors to big corporations (that the corporations end up becoming de facto arms of the federal government).
    Then we may see revival.

    • anon

      apparently Jesus does not agree with your assessment. For if he did, he would have gone to the house of government instead of to the house of Zacchaeus. The change must come from within the individual. Blaming governments and corporations indicates that you don’t understand the message.

      • Jonathan

        If Jesus wasn’t concerned about over turning Gov’s then he wouldn’t have you pray, “Thy Kingdom Come.” Or Acts 17:6 these are the ones who have been turning the world upside down, and now they have come here also.

        Jesus did come to the house of the Gov. Pontius, Herod and the Temple. He went there enough that they decided to crucify him.

      • Frank

        Exactly! But sadly not many here truly understand the red letters despite the blog name.

        • Jonathan

          That’s kind of a pompous statement.

          • Frank

            The truth stings sometimes as it should.

          • Jonathan

            That’s kind of a pompous statement.

          • Frank

            The truth stings sometimes as it should.

          • Jonathan

            Here’s some truth then. You are an ass.

          • Frank

            Sorry you got beat up! ;)

            You can’t fight the truth and win!

          • Jonathan

            Do you think this kind of engagement is to the destruction of the hearer? Or do you think it is beneficial and constructive?

            ie 2 Timothy 2:14 – 14 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers (new people who would visit this site).
            —-
            but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth,

          • Jonathan

            What did you think about this?
            ——
            You’re right it is an on topic discussion. So in the spirit of revival
            and justice. And looking at the tie between poverty levels and abortion
            levels being linked together. (ie. U.S. Abortion Rate Drops, Except
            Among Poorest Women; Times May 25, 2011) When the corporate criminals
            have a radical encounter with Jesus and decide to redistribute all the
            money they have unjustly gained and pay back 4 times to those they have
            stolen from. And poverty in society begins to diminish, in light of what
            is being said in the article above, the number of abortions will also
            decrease. And this will be a sign of Revival!!!!

          • Frank

            Well I did respond. Its a fantasy to think that corporations are going to abandon capitalism. I also take issue with calling them criminals. Some people are criminals but having a business for profit is not a crime. And frankly they are just a reflection of us. We keep buying from them.

          • Jonathan

            OK. No one said anything about capitalism you can have unjust gain (inequity) under any system.

            Are you calling revival a fantasy?

          • Frank

            It can be destructive and if it is we are both guilty.

          • Jonathan

            do you instigate?

          • Frank

            Instigate destruction? No.

            Although labeling me as a troll is certainly instigating and an affront to those innocent lives lost.

          • Drew

            Frank, an affront to those innocent lives is you sitting in your basement all day trolling websites you don’t even like, copying and pasting the same rhetoric over and over, then promoting your idol worship of the Republican Party and telling us to vote Republican. That is an affront.

          • Drew

            http://www.umatter.bbnow.org/donate.php

            If you make a donation, I will refrain from calling you a troll, because you will have done more than copy and paste on websites you disagree with.

          • Drew

            Frank, you have hours and hours a day to troll websites. Do you have five minutes to make a donation?

          • Jonathan

            has a morbid interest in…disputes about
            words, out of which arise … strife, abusive language, evil
            suspicions, and constant friction

          • Frank

            There is such a thing as righteous anger which does cause friction.

          • Jonathan

            Yeah, but it probably doesn’t pester.

          • Frank

            Actually it should if necessary. On this issue it seems to be necessary as we have people who call themselves followers of Jesus supporting the murder of actual innocent life.

            .

          • Jonathan

            Are you the one who likes all Franks posts? LOL

      • 22044

        Are you disagreeing with Morf then? He’s naming names of corporations that he doesn’t like. I am proposing that the root problem is greater, but from the opinions he’s posted in the past – he’s not likely to understand the connection.

        • Jonathan

          Semantic Boundary: When focusing on the semantics of unimportant details becomes an obstacle to seeing the overarching point that is being made by an article.

          • 22044

            Nice try – but the targets mentioned by Mr. Morford do not meet the requirement proposed by the definition of a semantic boundary.

          • Jonathan

            What do you think of his idea of revival evidence? Not just everyone being happy and spiritual, but poverty being diminished? I propose the semantic boundary is disagreeing with his formula, and missing the end point of revival having fruit in poor communities. And salvation having a change of heart do to a radical encounter with Jesus. Thus the rich will morn (because they’ll have to return what they’ve taken), and the poor will celebrate?
            —-

          • 22044

            I’d be hesitant to draw the conclusions that Mr. Morford is so confident in.
            If we look at Zaccheus’s story – we see that he was so happy to know the mercy of Jesus – that he wanted to return the riches he had stolen.
            A CEO of a bank could respond to the gospel. It might mean that he reforms his operations to be fair & appreciative to his customers and not rip them off. I’m hesitant to provide specifics about reducing/cancelling fees as part of implementing that, though. I just don’t think that’s my place.

          • Jonathan

            If we look at Zaccheus’s story- (I empathize with this interpretation)
            We see the chief tax collector Zacchaeus (representing the exploiter class in occupied Palestine) embracing a radical program of wealth sharing. While in Mark 10:17-22 the alleged piety of a large land owner is unmasked by his refusal to do the same.

            Most importantly for the narrative logic of Luke, Zacchaeus distributes half of his belongings to the poor at the culmination of the story (19:8), and it is what is redistributed by the Pentecostal Acts community (Acts 4:32). Rather than being possessed by our possessions, stuff exists to be shared—to build community.
            —-
            Wealth redistribution those threatens power. I wonder if this is something behind what the Pharisees were contending with.

          • Jonathan

            Either way Zacchaeus had repentance and action.

    • Drew

      You’re just as wrong as Morf. We don’t need to embrace the Republican or Democratic party for revival. In fact, that is what is preventing revival in most cases. We just need to embrace the Gospel and share it with other people.

      • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

        Drew, you have probably noticed that I am new to the comments on this site, but I have already noticed that you are a breath of fresh air and sound theology where it is needed. I praise God for your ministry and witness.

        • Drew

          Thank you. I am more conservative theologically than most of this website, however, I do enjoy quite a few articles, and do like much of what Dr. Campolo has to say. You do have to be discerning when visiting this website, but there is some good stuff.

      • 22044

        I’d agree with your last point – but I also know history well enough that when centralized governments become more powerful, their citizens are viewed as less valuable. I don’t think Mr. Morford has worked that out.
        But maybe those hardships must come to pass so that the Gospel can go forward. Someone mentioned on another blog that there is no better time to be a Christian than now. I hope I can agree with him

        • Drew

          You do realize, 22044, that the most prosperous countries in the world are ones that the far-right in America would deem “socialist,” and that the least prosperous countries in the world are ones that the far-right in America would consider to be “true free-market” economies. Not that I want the same country as Norway, but the argument that a move in that direction will end the country, or that we are even close to being as Socialist as those countries, is not rooted in truth.

    • SamHamilton

      I agree that Morf’s last post on RLC was all around partisan ranting, but in this one he wasn’t advocating the central government organize any of this revival. If it did, it wouldn’t be true revival in the first place. I get the feeling he was just imagining a world in which the people who’d taken advantage of others voluntarily repented of their actions and made amends. We can hope, right?

      • 22044

        If I viewed this post in isolation, it generally seems OK. I guess I viewed it as being integrated with his other posts – and I perceived that this looks more like a manifesto for reforming “boogeymen” instead of explaining the power of the Gospel. So my response tried to connect the dots a bit.
        I could extend the benefit of the doubt if Mr. Morford is trending towards a cessation of writing political rants.
        A willingness to make amends is a real fruit of the Gospel. I’d like to hope too.

        • SamHamilton

          I doubt they’ll stop. I think he’s just taking a break.

  • Frank

    Can you imagine what a true conversion would look like?

    It would look like a Christian who no longer allows the over 21,000 unborn children killed weekly mostly due to reasons of convenience. There can be no talk of justice without standing up for the most unjust of actions, abortion.

    • http://www.facebook.com/todd.bellemey Todd Allen Bellemey

      I don’t know you so I will not judge you or your actions, but I will ask you our you willing to Adopt those children and still love those who do get abortions?

      • Drew

        Frank has admitted that he believes trolling internet websites is his way to work on this issue.

      • Frank

        Are you willing to man up and stop the killing of over 21,000 innocent lives for reasons of convenience?

        • Drew

          Are you willing to move beyond trolling, or do you still think trolling solves world issues?

        • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

          Seeing as you avoided Todd’s question, is it safe to assume that’s a “no”? No, you would not be willing to provide support for those children so that they can live beyond the womb? No, you would not be willing to love as Jesus loved, even loving those who get abortions?

          • Frank

            Loving someone who gets an abortion is not in question I love them so much that I don’t want them to have blood on their hands. I provide plenty of support o children in need but that does nothing to stop the over 21,000 innocent lives being snuffed out each week mostly due to convenience.

            Making this about me instead of them only exposes your true motives.

          • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

            If those abortions don’t happen, that’s 21,000 kids in foster care, if they’re lucky. If there is nobody to support them, they will die just as surely as if they were aborted. So unless the people who oppose abortion are willing to support these children, there is no change, except that the anti-abortion folks feel warm and fuzzy inside knowing that the child was born before it succumbed to hunger and died.

          • Frank

            You don’t seem to be a stupid guy so why would make such a stupid unsupported statement?

          • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

            The unsupported statement that children who are not cared for will die? Yes, that is quite the radical stance to take. I can see why you would call me out for it.

          • Frank

            Maybe you are not such a smart guy afterall…. Are you a fortune teller? How do you know that those unaborted children will die due to not being cared for? You think it better to allow 21,000 children to die weekly (fact) than to worry that some children may die sometime in the future due to neglect (unsupported speculation)?

            At least this kind of warped thinking explains a little bit where you are coming from.

          • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

            It’s simple logic, Frank. You claim that the vast majority are aborted for convenience – because they are unwanted. Them being born will not make them more wanted. The foster system is already having trouble placing all of the children it has in homes – 20,000 each year “age out” because nobody wanted them. You will be adding 21,000 each week to that number. And yet, you believe that these 21,000 will be different, that they will be wanted and cared for. Blind optimism will not feed them. You are trading one death for another. If you truly wish to see these children live, support the systems that will keep them alive after birth.

          • Frank

            I am for giving them a chance at life like we all have. To snuff out that chance is indefensible especially if someone calls themselves a follower of Jesus.

            Keep trying to justify the unjustifiable. It only exposes your true self.

          • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

            “Keep trying to justify the unjustifiable. It only exposes your true self.” You always say this when you have no response. Keep trolling, Frank. Your true self has already been exposed.

          • Frank

            Based on what you have posted your opinion of me is meaningless and I look forward to you ignoring me in the future

          • Dan T.

            Hi Frank, I appreciate your standing up for life. Regardless of all their arguments, life and death are matters best left in God’s hands, not ours. I find it disappointing that the “Red Letter Christians” make such a sacrifice to take some of Jesus’ words seriously, then allow such a blatant sin to go unchallenged.

    • Jonathan

      “A fanatic is someone who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” – Winston Churchill

      • Frank

        When over 21,000 innocent lives are no longer being killed due to convenience than it will be time to move on. Until then I am happily a “fanatic” in getting the truth out.

        • Jonathan

          You’re actually inconsiderate of people here who want to have an on topic discussion.

          • Frank

            Abortion is on topic with any discussion of justice, restoration, mercy and generosity.

          • Jonathan

            You’re right it is an on topic discussion. So in the spirit of revival and justice. And looking at the tie between poverty levels and abortion levels being linked together. (ie. U.S. Abortion Rate Drops, Except Among Poorest Women; Times May 25, 2011) When the corporate criminals decide to redistribute the money the have unjustly gained. And poverty in society begins to diminish, in light of what is being said in the article, then number of abortions will also decrease. And this will be a sign of Revival!!!!

            That’s how I would bring abortion into the conversation. So you’re right Frank.

          • Frank

            What you describe is a fantasy and you know it. Meanwhile in reality over 21,000 unborn innocent lives are killed weekly mostly due to reasons of convenience.

          • Frank

            And there is a wonderful gift that we all have. The capacity to ignore. I use it maybe you should too if you don’t like the truths that I post. No one is forcing you to respond to me

          • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

            Frank, we are all aware of your capacity to ignore – you ignore every discussion and attempt to redirect it to abortion instead. If you are this devoted, my suggestion is to stop talking and start acting.

          • Frank

            Who said I am not doing both. I will not stop talking and sharing the terrible truth about abortion.

          • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

            So what is it you are doing, then? Besides filling out a ballot once every four years and complaining on the internet, what steps are you taking to end abortion?

          • Frank

            I support organizations with both time and money that provided needed services to pregnant women as well as the supplies they need to care for their babies is one thing I do but this is not about me. Even if I did nothing it does not change the fact that over 21,000 innocent lives are killed weekly moistly for convenience sake. This is not, nor should be, about me unless you just don’t want to deal with the truth and feel its easier to just kill the messenger.

          • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

            It is about you, Frank, because faith without works is dead. If you had said that you did nothing to end abortion outside of your complaining, then it would only be proper to kill the messenger, because hypocrisy should not be tolerated.

          • Frank

            Even if I were a hypocrite, 21,000 innocent lives are still being killed each week mostly due to reasons of convenience and you are more concerned about me. How terribly sad for a follower of Jesus.

            If you are so concerned about hypocrisy you should call out most of the blog posts here.

          • http://snommelp.tumblr.com/ Snommelp

            It’s terribly sad for a follower of Jesus to love and be concerned for someone even when they disagree? Good to know. If that is the case, then yes, I am in a terribly sad state.

  • keith

    Well, Morf you had me nodding my head until you went and attributed “human” qualities to corporations or is it OK to do that when the liberal side needs it? I agree there needs to be much more compassion in this world but not sure you remember the “mortgage meltdown” in which Barney Frank and the like allowed people to obtain loans they couldnt repay and should never have received. There is this thing called ‘personal responsibililty’ that many seem to want to throw out when held accountable. Granted the rich could give more and thats why you should have suported Romney instead of a man who gives very little and wont help his own family. ;)

    • Jonathan

      I hope at ‘judgement day’ God holds those that use the words ‘personal responsibility’ accountable at a very high level.:) :) :)

      • Frank

        I think we can count on that!

      • keith

        You have a problem with ‘personal responsibility’ Jonathan? Thats funny

      • keith

        Oh yeah Jonathan, Youre the guy who called out those nasty corporations (that 90% of you have money invested in ;)) and want them to pay back all that money they ‘stole’ lol…What a pathetic display of envy and jelousy. Tell me what level should they give back brother? Lets see, youre one of those who wants to tout that the Bible directs us to take care of the poor right? So lets explore who the poor were in Jesus day. They were the ones at the gates to the city, the outcasts, the sick, the beggars. They werent the ones who required heating/coolling, cell phones, automobiles, free healthcare, free food (most rivaling gormet restaurants when Im behind them in line) etc etc…..Tell me sir where you find the “LEVEL” of a lifestyle that America should keep its poor? What verse? What book? In biblliccal days they had slaves…..HEY theres a contraversial one. They had the life essentials but certainly not at the levels of their masters. The bottom line is that there will always be those who prosper more than others…thus the commandment “Thou shalt not envy” Yours is just a self justified version of an old sin. And yes, EVERYBODY HAS PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY….its called choices….. Would you believe there are people who chose to follow the dollar and failed who accept their failures and embrace their circumstance instead of blaming corporations or banks or those who didnt fail?? You should try some PR instead of casting blame at imaginary boogey mans and dragons…unless of course you are into that kind of thing ;)

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