“What if a drug-addicted prostitute came to church and sat beside you one Sunday, how will you feel?”
This question lingered in my mind since my husband raised it during his message a few Sundays ago. I mulled it over and contemplated how I would react if this did happen to our church. After several days of ruminating on it, I came to a definite conclusion.
I am ashamed to admit: I believe her presence would make me feel so uncomfortable and compel me to move away from her. I would probably pretend she is not there or most likely not even talk to her. I might even be offended by her presence.
I asked myself, “Why?” The answer, “Pride.”
Pride because I deem myself better for not committing sins as “big” as hers. Pride because I estimate myself “superior” compared to her for not stumbling over vile sins of the flesh (as if all sin is not sickening to God). (Really, the keyword here is “compare.” Comparing myself to others readily spurs my arrogant heart to either false humility or false superiority.)
I have this tendency, which I used to not fully acknowledge, to categorize sins as big or small despite knowing that every sin is rooted in disobedience to God — in pride. This inclination to consider people based on the magnitude of their sins has caused me to unwittingly measure everyone else using my sins as the standard, thereby assuming that there are people who are beyond God’s grace. But, nothing could be further from the truth; if one person is beyond God’s love and salvation, then we are all doomed.
I am sad to unearth this rottenness in me, but it made me rethink my stand on sins and people. It made me realize that I need to shift my outlook to the way Jesus saw things; it allowed me to confront my erroneous reasoning. I have become self-righteous and wicked in my dealings with people.
God reminded me: To Him, every sin is garbage. He doesn’t see it as big or small. All sin is offensive to Him.
Sure, there are different consequences to our sins. The repercussions of our faulty actions vary in weight. Sins, on earthly terms, call for different punishments. Some sins result to broken relationships while others follow imprisonment, but all sin leads to death.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23
When we sin, whether a “simple” act of gossiping or a heinous deed of taking another person’s life, a part of us dies with it because we violated God.
There are sins that are obvious and quickly identified while there are sins that are well-hidden and not easily spotted. Yet nothing escapes God. All of these, He sees. No matter our sin, it grieves God; but because of Jesus’ blood, we have been saved and set free. We have been given a second chance. We have been given a hope.
And, He wants me — us — to spread His love and His gift of salvation to others. He wants me to be filled with His grace and show mercy as He has shown mercy to me. He wants me to seek out those who need Him, maybe, especially those whom I judge to be undesirable and pariahs to our society.
“When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:12 – 13)
Jesus sought out the very people our society considers to be the lowest and the dirtiest. He did not shy away from them instead He went out looking for them, even dined with them, which in those times meant you were equals.
I worship Jesus to offer as a sacrifice because He is worthy to be praised and honored and glorified. No one can be with Him and not see how mind-blowing He is. Who Jesus is causes me to adore and celebrate Him.
However, Jesus wants me to give mercy and not sacrifice. He wants me to pursue love with every people I encounter and to look for opportunities to show mercy to those who need it most, to dine with them.
God, help me to be able to do this.
© 2014 Kezia Lewis. All Rights Reserved.