Celebrate Christianity

January 20, 2014

 

Recently, while I was praying and meditating I asked God and mostly myself, “What is Christianity all about?” “What should make my faith in Christ different?”, “How should we present Christianity to the world outside?” As I was meditating more and more it became clear to me that Christianity is about unconditional love, incarnated in the life and teachings of the person Jesus Christ, and so by imitating Christ we too can display that love to the world outside and prepare them to know Jesus like they never knew Him before.

And so this brought me to the story of the Prostitute woman who was brutally dragged to Jesus, for judgment for she was caught at the very act of adultery and fornication. They asked Jesus a very hard question in order to test Him: “What will you do with her?” “Will you stone her to death? For this is the law of Moses!” “Or will you just let her go? Then you are in contradiction with the word of God and the Law?”

I believe Jesus was in a very tough situation. If He would say to stone her, then He ignored God’s grace-the message which He was preaching; if He would just let her go, then He is contradicting the Mosaic Law. But in a miraculous way, full of heavenly wisdom, Jesus said: “He who never sinned throw the first stone.”

Amazed and shocked all the people left without stoning the woman! Then Jesus said to the woman that her sins are forgiven and that she should go and sin no more.

In this way, Jesus neither broke the Law nor ignored  grace. So as I was meditating, I realized that Yes! That’s it! This prostitute woman is not only representing a woman who was selling her body, but she also represents all of us today. She represents all kinds of sins, shortcomings and mistakes. Also Jesus by addressing the crowd He said that he who has not sinned throw the first stone. In other words, you are no better that this prostitute woman, that you are just the same as this woman. Therefore, I can imagine what Jesus meant: He actually gave the people a choice by telling them to throw the stone if they were all pure and holy. No one was there to do so. Because each person knew what was his or her own personal secret sins.

This story indirectly suggests two possible choices: “Guys since you too are sinners and this prostitute is also a sinner, then you altogether deserve stoning and punishment so throw stone on each other until you are all dead.” She is a sinner and deserves stoning and the crowd were also sinners who deserve punishment. This makes things equal. You are no better than the other, so choose for the second option which is: mercy, grace and love and put down the stones of hate.” Actually, I admire the prostitute woman in this story. Do you know why? Because her sin was not a secret to all!  The crowd however in that story were hypocrites. They were sinning and their sins are until today a secret to us. Just like some of us religious people and even clergies! We pretend to be holy, but if it was up to counting our mistakes, I am telling you a whole book will not be enough to write one man’s sins and mistakes.

Let us not throw stones on each other. Let us put down stones of so-called judgment. Righteousness & Justice are not in throwing stones on each other for the sake of Law and God. Judgment and Righteousness is about choosing for love when there is plenty ground to hate!

I think that the story of the prostitute woman and Jesus is the essence of Christian Faith: Love & Forgiveness! Judgement yet Grace! My friend, my brother and my sister if you think you are a perfect and an ultra holy Christian, then this article is not for you because you are too holy to read this and probably you are already judging me and putting me in your virtual boxes and putting all kinds of labels on me.

But In case  you think you are imperfect, yet you try your best to live a live worthy of Christ and even though you make mistakes in such a way visible to all people, then this article is for you, because I am not here to throw stone on you. You have to be assured that even though I don’t tolerate sin, but I love the sinner. That is what Jesus taught me. Our century is the century of throwing religious stones on those who are sinning, or who think different than us and those who do not fit in our virtual idealistic boxes and labels. The Gospel I preach and believe in is the Gospel of Christ who taught me to love unconditionally, a Gospel which does not condemn but love, does not reject but receives. The Gospel in which I can hug a Muslim and call him a friend, shake hands with a Buddhist and say I love you. Or tell an atheist that even if you hate me because of my God, I love you no matter what or how.

You don’t have to compromise with people, religions or things which are in contradiction to your faith. However, you can still reach out in love and mutual respect to approach them and share with them what you believe without compromising or being judgmental. Look how Jesus did: He was not intimidated by the sinners, nor did He compromised with them but at the same time, He  was not afraid to dine on the same table with them. He reached them when no one dared to do so! And yet, He did not confirm or acknowledge their sins but through grace showed them the right path.

Ironically, the prostitute woman in all her sins was still honest simply because of the visibility of her shortcomings and her mistakes.

What about those who judged her? How many sins did they cover up? How many times did they look lustfully at someone else’s daughters or wife? “How many times did they lie, cheat and deceive? What makes deception lesser than prostitution? What justifies that envy, rage, hate, is somehow lesser than prostitution? Don’t get me wrong I am not defending the act of prostitution in any way, I am just emphasizing that sin is sin and there is no way of justifying it theologically. That is why Jesus said, “I have not come to abolish the Law but to complete it”. Let us celebrate Christianity with those who are different than us. Let us feast on the table of brotherhood and humanity and by doing so, we are opening the possibility of sharing the unconditional, graceful love of Christ our Savior to all people.

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© 2010-2019 by Samuel C. Lee

 

Samuel Lee (Ph.D.) is university lecturer, at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam - Faculty of Religion and Theology (FRT-VU), and director for Center for Theology of Migration, the educational program of Samen Kerk in Nederland at the FRT-VU. 

He is the founder of Foundation Academy of Amsterdam, offering higher education in liberal arts and humanities for migrants, refugees and persecuted minorities.

 

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