"Keeping Safe From Sin" vs "Valuing People"

The Rabbis of Jesus' day had added to the Law all kinds of additional rules to keep safe from their own sinfulness and the sinfulness of others. They loved God, and knew following God was hard. They knew that the ebb and flow of their own passions would draw them away from following faithfully. And they desperately wanted to stay focused and safe!

And then Jesus came along and ignored all the purity rules. He valued people over His own purity! Imagine that!

Jesus took water from a Samaritan woman, and conversed with her alone. Scandalous! Even the woman assumed that He was interested in flirting or more. But Jesus was actually interested in this sinful heathen woman as a PERSON just like you or me, and not as a sexual object -- and was so interested in her as a PERSON that he was unconcerned about appearances or modeling inappropriate boundaries for others, let alone about his own vulnerability.

Jesus let lepers into his personal space. He was so interested in them as PERSONS that He was unconcerned about his own health or the potential for spreading disease to others or the poor modeling of adherence to a good law that was in the best interests of all.

Jesus let a known prostitute touch his feet very intimately. Again, he was so interested in her as a PERSON that he was unconcerned about all the things that he "ought" to have been considering to model holy living.

Jesus went to eat at the home of a tax collector. This action said that the man could move from the category "social pariah" to the category of those that could inherit the Kingdom that Jesus said was among them.

Jesus -- over and over, in his stories and in his actions -- set the stage for what we later see Peter and Paul doing in terms of how they interacted with the sinners around them and in terms of how they managed their concern for purity in their own lives as followers of Jesus.

Over and over we see this astounding truth: Jesus cares more about including everyone who wants to be included in the Kingdom than he cares about making the Kingdom a "safe and pure" place.

Perhaps the nature of the Kingdom is that it cannot fail to purify and cannot fail to save . . . and that any who would come and follow are welcome to do so.

For us:
. . . who am I keeping out because I'm afraid I'll be "stained" by their "sin", as if they were worse than me?
. . . and who am I failing to value as Jesus does, and thereby proving that I have never set foot in the Kingdom at all, or I would never imagine that I could protect myself or the Kingdom by acting in a way that is contrary to the nature of the King?

"Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors" . . . and my debts to Him are so much greater than anyone's debts to me!

"Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" . . . because HE owns the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory, and is the ONE who will keep us safe from our own yuckiness . . . but NOT if we try to keep ourselves safe by excluding any of the ones welcomed by HIS own arms!

The only way over our fear of "sinners" is to fully experience the depth of our own depravity and the power of our God to save us out of it! Then we no longer fear anyone, and we know that his power and his truth can certainly save any other person . . . after all, if he could save me, YOU are infinitely easier than I was and will be!

SIN that makes one impure is not primarily sexual in nature, nor is it primarily of greed, nor is it primarily of laziness . . .

SIN that makes one impure is the sin that blinds itself to TRUTH and tries to make a safer, purer world through rules or a "freer" or more satisfying world through taking God's grace and truth lightly.

We fail to listen to each other and even to listen to our own hearts because we fail to listen to Jesus.


At Tuesday, November 25, 2008 at 7:51:00 PM PST, Blogger Unknown said...

maria, do you preach ever? this is good sermon material...

At Tuesday, November 25, 2008 at 9:55:00 PM PST, Blogger EmKay Anderson said...

Thanks, Jim!

I "preached" this to my Bethel class tonight, and made 40 minutes out of it! But I am a layperson, and -- as you hear all the time through twitter -- busy with kids and work.

Should finances and life events allow seminary eventually, I may preach my first real sermon as an old lady!

In any case, I am being as obedient today as the sinner that I am is capable of being by His grace . . . and that is the most important preaching I'll ever do!

Blessings on your writing and pastoring!

At Wednesday, November 26, 2008 at 6:12:00 AM PST, Blogger Unknown said...

when I go on vacation, I have elders preach...so there's a possible opportunity...have a great t-day...and keep up the faithful ministry to your family. peace.


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