It is no secret that throughout history, terrible human tragedies can be traced back to the Church. Specifically the Christian Church. Notice I’m using the capital ‘C’ for Church. This is to indicate the idea that it is the body of Christ followers and not a specific denomination that I’m referring to.
What sorts of things am I referring to? Just read the news some time. Look at the pictures of Christian protestors at the doors to abortion clinics, at anti-gay rallies, etc. Notice the facial expressions on their faces when they hear about someone getting pregnant outside of marriage or when a couple from the church is getting a divorce or what have you.
When you see and hear about these things, is that the idea you get in your head when you imagine what being a Christian is about? Or do you ask questions like, “Where is grace? Where is love? Aren’t these people that they are spewing such hatred and judgement on also made in the image of God?”
I see pictures of Christian protests and look at their faces and ask these questions. They look so full of hate, so violent. And I can’t help but think about how Jesus interacted with people who were considered “sinners.” He didn’t seem to approach them with hatred and judgement. He started out by being compassionate, understanding. Then, and only then, would he tell them…not “You are a sinner”…but more to the idea of “Please stop sinning.”
The story this always brings to mind is from John 4, the woman at the well:
4Now he had to go through Samaria. 5So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.F29 )
10Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”
13Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17“I have no husband,” she replied.
18Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
19“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
25The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”
There are so very many things about this story that I find interesting in this context. So many, in fact, that as I write this, I find myself thinking that perhaps there is too much for a single post. That being the case, I think that I’ll let the scripture speak for itself for today and I’ll be back next week to tie this in with where I started this post off. And, probably share more scripture.
So, until next week…
Grace, love and peace.