A long long time ago, there was once a blogger who “happened” upon my blog. Said blogger was an atheist. He came specifically to challenge me on my faith and had a lot to say about my “kind” of people, those being the “broken” ones. I told him that I wasn’t an apologist nor would I engage in any kind of scripture war with him, but rather tell him what I know, my story, ugly as it was in all of its glory. I told him about what had brought me to Christ and the things I had experienced in my journey to get me there. He laughed at me.
I am not quite sure why sexual abuse, divorce or the like is funny, or how it lends itself to criticize and mock someone for believing that God saved their lives, but he managed to do it. He then went on to post on his own blog about how “all of these broken people” find Jesus and how their stories are all the same. I think he may have lumped drug addicts and alcoholics into that category, but he basically said the common denominator was that we were all messed up folks. I don’t think I was quite ready to hear that, from someone I didn’t even know nonetheless and although many people answered him back, I did not, because, well, I didn’t know how to.
Time went on and life went on and I wasn’t quite sure why he bothered me so much. Yes, I had all the answers in my head but they were mixed in with my emotions and love for Jesus and I felt sad that someone would say what he said. So I put that in my back pocket and moved on.
You see, we are quick as Christians to say “well the bible says this, and the bible says that”, and yes these things are truth in our eyes, but alas we are human, and when a perfect stranger tells you that your common denominator is brokenness and your God is not real, well… it hurts. It doesn’t hurt because I’m not emotionally or spiritually mature enough to take it, it hurts because the beginning, middle, end and continuation of my recovery depends on Jesus and Him alone. And that’s where I was. Someone telling me I’m broken and that the God that healed me is not real. For anyone who has ever recovered from anything- sexual abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction you name it, you very well know that recovery is a life long process. And ANYTHING can make you backslide at anytime, even when you have the strongest of success stories.
So this morning when I read Luke 7:36-50 and saw when the “righteous” man invited Jesus to eat with him, my wheels were spinning. The text says that he was a “Pharisee” but my insides told me was a self-righteous bastard. A prostitute then comes along into this house where Jesus is and then…
“Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment,
she stood behind him at his feet weeping
and began to bathe his feet with her tears.
Then she wiped them with her hair,
kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself,
“If this man were a prophet,
he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him,
that she is a sinner.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Simon, I have something to say to you.”
And here goes nothing…
Jesus goes on to tell a parable about two debtors- one that owed significantly more than the other. He asks the “righteous” man, if the creditor forgives both of their debts, “Which of them will love him more?” and the man says, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.”
Jesus tells him he’s right and goes on to say something simply profound. I’ll let him say it because this part just cannot be paraphrased,
“He said to him, “You have judged rightly.”
Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon,
“Do you see this woman?
When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet,
but she has bathed them with her tears
and wiped them with her hair.
You did not give me a kiss,
but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.
You did not anoint my head with oil,
but she anointed my feet with ointment.
So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven;
hence, she has shown great love.
But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”
He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The others at table said to themselves,
“Who is this who even forgives sins?”
But he said to the woman,
“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
(You can find the scripture here, go to the bottom of the link)
And it hit me, all at once. The atheist was right. He was right about so many of us who come to Jesus being broken. It’s right there in the story. Jesus told a religious fanatic that a prostitute who came begging for mercy was the one that understood mercy and forgiveness more than he ever would. It’s the gospel in its purest, most beautiful form. That “Pharisee” was not just symbolic of religious hypocrites, but also symbolic of people whose pride blinds them to truth in its purest forms. And we, we the broken people are the prostitute, begging God to save us from ourselves. Because we’ve discovered and admitted that we need help, that we just can’t do it on our own.
The flood of emotion I felt after reading that today was real, and palpable and so very hard to write about. To remember being in the darkest of places, begging this God I did not know for a way out. You can call me a moron, broken or stupid, but I can tell you, in the middle of a dark hole when I knew that I could not help myself, God , He was there, picking up the broken pieces of my life, and like the prostitute, gave me a new one. It’s the truth. And there is no other plausible explanation.
So if you are the prostitute, the homeless man, the beggar, the drug addict, the adulterer, the prideful bastard, the sell out- Christianity is for you. It may not seem that way in the world, but it’s the truth. And if you don’t feel like you belong in the church, you don’t, none of us do, including me, you’re in good company. Jesus never fit in anywhere either…