Thursday, 07 October 2010
I am, frankly, tired of seeing Christians who excuse their hate, bitterness, and resentment towards those who are considered to be ungodly. All over the Gospel of Christ, we see how Jesus handled sinners. One overarching theme that we see in scripture is God's heart towards the lost. This can't be seen more clearly than in the gospels.
The word "gospel" itself actually means "Good News". And what exactly is that good news?
Well, in Luke 4 we see that Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah, saying
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Directly after preaching this, Jesus admits that this is a prophecy about himself. So we see that Christ came to set free those who are poor, imprisoned, blind, and oppressed.
Then in Matthew 9, we read about a pharisee who asked one of Jesus' disciples why Jesus eats with the sinners and the tax collectors.
Jesus heard this and replied, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' (quoting Hosea 6:6) For I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners."
So now, we can add to the list that Jesus also came to heal the sick and minister to the sinners.
And of course, must also add to the list two other things: He came as a representation of what God intended for mankind (meaning it is our duty as Christians to attempt to live life in a way that he teaches), and he came as a sacrifice for our sin. That is most important because humankind can not live in righteousness apart from God.
Throughout the entirety of scripture, we see a theme that God is displeased with humankind's attempt at righteousness. And shouldn't he be displeased? After all, true righteousness can't come from ourselves, but from the One who is truly righteous and good. This is why Jesus was so quick to chastise those who pointed out the speck in another's eye. It's because false righteousness is a giant tree trunk in the way. We can't possibly see the speck in another person's eye.
In Luke 7:36-50, we read a story of Jesus eating at a pharisee's house. The pharisee's name was Simon (not to be confused with Simon Peter).
While Jesus was eating with Simon, a woman came into the house. The scripture tells us that this woman was a sinful woman... she was probably a prostitute. We don't really know, but what we do know is that she had lived a sinful life, but she came into this house, in search of Jesus.
Back then, it wasn't good for a woman to travel alone, without the companionship of her husband or her father. This just wasn't done. It was considered to be trashy. It would especially be looked down on if a woman were to come alone to a dinner, uninvited. But this is exactly what we read in this story. To make things worse, the woman was already known for being a woman of ill repute.
When the woman came to Jesus in Simon's house, she came behind Jesus. Filled with sorrow, and feeling unclean, she wept. She cried enough tears that she began to cleans Jesus' feat with them, drying them off with her hair, which she had let down. Also in that time, a woman letting her hair down in front of any man except for her husband was also looked down on. It could almost be the equivalent of a woman removing her shirt in public today. But she got down on her knees, weeping, cleansing Jesus' feet with her tears and drying his feet with her hair. She wasn't ceasing to kiss his feet, as she poured perfume on them.
Simon couldn't believe what he was seeing. He had heard that Jesus was a prophet, but here he is, letting this unclean woman touch him. Simon said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, surely he'd know what kind of woman is touching him! How can he let her do that?"
Jesus turned to Simon and said, "Simon, I've got something to tell you."
"Teach me" Simon replied.
Jesus went on to tell a parable:
"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of the debtors will love the moneylender more?"
Simon replied, "Well, I suppose the one who owed the most money."
"You've judged correctly" Jesus said. Then he turned to the woman while still talking to Simon:
"Simon, do you see this woman? I came to your house and you did not give me any water for my feat. But this woman who came to me wet my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You did not great me with a kiss, but since she came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has put perfume on my feet. This is why I must let you know that all of her many sins have been forgiven, for she loved much. But to those whom have been forgiven little will love little."
Jesus then told the woman, "Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."
Here we have Jesus blessing a sinner, while he is chastising someone who is religious. And why is that? It's because she was weak enough to realize that she needed Jesus, while Simon was too stubborn to see the error of his self-righteousness.
When was the last time you were so moved by Christ that you've examined your own life and broke into tears knowing how sinful you are and how perfect He is?
It's easy for Christians to slip in the mode of self-righteousness... and I'm as guilty as any. But when we come to realize who it was that Christ came for, we develop a better understanding of who He is and how we are to live. Can we learn to love those who are trapped in sin? Can we learn that in our sin, we are equal, just as we are in our salvation? Can we learn to bless those who need blessing the most?
Of course we can. Jesus has shown us that this is possible.
What examples in your life do you have of Christians failing to show the ungodly love? What examples in your life do you have of Christians who were truly showing love to the ungodly? What are we doing wrong that we are failing at showing love to sinners?