(Here’s my 2nd post in a row about popular “heretics” in Christianity – it’s unofficial “he’s a friend of sinners!” week.)
This weekend I read a sermon by Sara Miles whom I’ve written about previously. I devoured her first book – which is in the top 3 Christian lit I’ve ever read, and I just started her second, which had me journaling through the first page – it’s that good.
Within the first two paragraphs of this sermon Sara had me mesmerized by Jesus (again). There is just something about how she understands Jesus and his gospel – it’s so penetrating and beautiful and untainted by a lifetime immersed in religion. I linked to the sermon above, this is my second strong suggestion you check it out.
Sara converted from a liberal atheistic background into the Episcopalian tradition. Sara is gay, which automatically places her in the fringe of popular of Christian authors. And quite frankly I think it speaks volumes of Sara that she hasn’t denounced Christianity for all the flack she has received from her other Christians.
I know plenty of people immediately write off Sara Miles because she’s a lesbian – I’ve read the letters to the editor in Christianity Today. But we need to get accustomed to the idea that God uses people we would never suspect – maybe even people who offend us. I suppose I understand why people discount whatever she has to say, but at the same time I think they’re experiencing a narrow version of the kingdom.
We tend to think that God only uses neat and tidy Christians, well polished reputable people who appear near flawless. And we may say we intellectually believe God can use anyone (though we usually say that to make self-conscious Christians feel better, not necessarily referencing people we consider untouchable), when it comes down to it we’re like the people in John 1:46 who say” Nazareth? What good can come from there?” We have unspoken categories for who can make a difference, and an even bigger one for those who can’t.
Sometimes I worry my “message” is for the very people not reading my blog – as I truly see my readers as wise and mature. It’s a bit like preaching to the choir. However I think this message is something we all mix up. I know I judge tons of people and immediately write them off, as if they have little value because they are this or that, but over and over again God demonstrates that he can truly use anyone. It’s very disruptive and disturbing to some Christians, but it actually speaks of the power (and the love) of our God. I’ll even say that in the gospels Jesus seems to go out of his way to use messy (hate that Christian buzzword) people in order to make a statement.
We judge people like this as a time-saving effort. If we were to give everyone the time of day we’d never have a clean house or time to ride our bicycles. In a way, the judgments are born of a necessity. But when we don’t write off someone for whatever list of reasons we come up with, we find innumerable people and places where God is moving and speaking into our lives.
I think as long as we only look to clean cut or pruned-of-sin Christians as people through whom God speaks, we’ll only have a small understanding of the one we call Lord.
Who has God used that you had written off?