“A prositute came to me in wretched straits, homeless, sick,unable to buy food for her two-year-old daughter. Through sobs and tears, she told me she had been renting out her daughter – two years old!-to men interested in kinky sex. She made more renting out her daughter for an hour than she could earn her own in a night. She had to do it, she said, to support her own drug habit. I could hardly bear hearing her sordid story. For one thing, it made me legally liable-I’m required to report cases of child abuse. I had no idea what to say to this woman.
At last I asked if she had ever thought of going to church for help. I will never forget the look of pure, naive shock that crossed her face. “Church!” she cried. “Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They’d just make me feel worse.”
What struck me about my friend’s story is that women much like this prostitute fled towards Jesus, not away from him. The worse a person felt about herself, the more likely she saw Jesus as a refuge. Has the church lost that gift? Evidently the down-and-out, who flocked to Jesus when he lived on earth, no longer fell welcome among his followers. What has happened?”
Philip Yancey- What’s so Amazing about Grace?
This quote gave me a heavy heart. It saddens me that so many of us sit in our churches with little care for the poor, needy and oppressed. Too often we are unwilling to go to the places of our towns and cities that are deemed to be “filthy”. Where the prostitutes loiter and the homeless man shivers and seeks the secluded doorway for shelter from the bitter wintry elements. It saddens me that so many, even myself, are so quick to preach, yet so slow to act and show the love of Christ to those who need it. Prostitutes and homeless people do not need to be condemned. They need to be shown and told of the love and forgiveness of Christ. Prostitutes do not need someone to tell them to repent….for they already know what they do is wrong…they just need to hear that there is a Christ who holds out forgiveness and hope in a world that has already cast it’s judgement upon them. Repentance will be a natural reaction for them as the Holy Spirit opens their eyes to the truth.
In one way I am sympathetic towards the Emergent church for their emphasis on this. Yet I stand opposed to much of their theology (“their” being used lightly due to the broad and varied beliefs within the emergent movement). There is too much “middle-class” Christianity in the West and it most definitely needs a shake-up. We need straight talking preachers who preach the word faithfully, aren’t afraid of men, preach Christ from all of Scripture, who call the people to let go of the world and their comforts. It’s my firm conviction that the church in the west has to get out there more and become a place where lost yet seeking prostitutes, homeless and guilt-ridden sinners can find forgiveness and healing. Why is there such an imbalance in the church today? There are those who are orthodox in their beliefs yet they do nothing to show the love of Christ to the needy and oppressed. Yet there are also those who do much for the needy and oppressed yet are so liberal in their theology that I fear their souls are lost because they preach and believe in a non-biblical Gospel and a mythical Jesus. There must be a balance!
Sound doctrine is a must. But to sit in our pews week-in, week-out without showing grace to others, the very grace which we have freely received, is surely a sad indictment against the church? My question is; Are we humble enough to admit and repent of our tendency to become “clique”? Are we willing to examine ourselves and admit that so often we are Pharisaical in our attitudes, in that we look at the lost, the “filthy” and unsaved and think like the Pharisee “Lord thank you I am not like the heathen”? How often do we turn our noses up at the poor or the homeless man and pass him by? I’ve done it too many times. My selfish and pharisaical heart is still there. What a wretch I am! Yet how reassuring it is to know that I am covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
“My Lord, what love is this that pays so dearly. That I the guilty one, may go free. Amazing love, oh what sacrifice. The Son of God, given for me. My debt he payed and my death he died, that I might live.”
Do our churches allow sinners to flee to Jesus? Or are we actually making it more difficult for them because of our transforming the church into a well-to-do middle class social club who do nothing more than tickle each others ears each week? The moment we think we have arrived is most likely the moment we have begun to depart.