What would be your first thought if the Holy Spirit opened your eyes and you found the handsome looking, well built young man sat next to you with the well thumbed Bible was a male prostitute? Would you immediately pick up your bag and Bible, nudge past the ushers and find yourself another seat? Years and years and years ago, a holy man appeared on the scene. Curious to engage with him and have a bit of his influence rub off – “you know who I had dinner with last night?” – another religious leader invited the holy man to his home for a meal. True to type, the holy name arrived on the dot of the hour and they sat down to a hearty meal. The religious leader looked forward to a night of long discussions centred around the latest understanding of their revered scriptures. Hardly have they sat down to a meal of roast vegetables and skewered baby lamb when in walks Ralia, the local lady of pleasure. Embarassed, the religious leader averts his eyes and digs deeper into his lamb. Just as he is devising a plan to handle this, this situation, he notices Rali squat next to the holy man, and reach for the clasp of his sandals to remove them. What? The holy man cringes in horror that rapidly turns into disgust. “If indeed this man is holy, he would have known who it is that is about to touch him”. If you reacted in horror to the revelation you received about your neighbour, you would not be the first, sadly, neither would you be the last. Human beigns have an in-built need to feel “better than”. Yet Jeremiah reminds us that the heart of man is desperately wicked. That scripture refers not just to the thoughts of a man, but to his potential for evil. We all have it in us to be sinful! If today, by reason of being born again, you feel “better” than the male prostitute, its got nothing to do with you. It’s grace.
Can we really reckon ourselves to be better than any other, it is only the grace of God that has saved us from sin. If you saved yourself from your sin by your own effort, then very well we ought to applaud you, place you in the seat of honour and you would have the right to look down on everyone else, but you didn’t – so shut up!
Sadly, Christians catetgorize sin, so you say “but, he is a prostitute, Pastor he sells sex, he sleeps around!” And I will ask you, “how about that hot gossip you spread on Friday that caused an earthquake in your neighbour’s home?” Why did Ralia find it easy to access the religious leader’s home – could it be because her services were delivered there? None of us is better than the other, it’s simply grace. If a sinner is not received back into church (mind you his sin must not be condoned) with open arms but with a sneer, then we have built a church which does not reflect the parable of the prodigal. If Church were home only to the holy, then it would be empty. Church is home to every one who recognises that there is something missing in their lives and only in Christ can they find the grace to live above sin.