And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that [Jesus] was reclining at a table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”
— Luke 7:37–39
Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
— Luke 7:44–47
Which one are you? Are you the forgiven woman, openly showing love for Jesus? Or are you the Pharisee, judging others who profess to be Christians, looking for their faults and questioning how someone like that could ever be in your circle?
As I read through Luke 7:36–47, I actually found myself relating to the Pharisee, not because he was right in his judgment, but because I’ve found myself judging others privately before, questioning how they could even call themselves Christians because I knew of some sin they’d committed that, for me, somehow disqualified them from being in my circle of Christ followers. It’s awful, isn’t it, that we can allow our judgments to cast doubt on the professions of faith others are making? And what’s worse is that I’ve committed plenty of sins, some I haven’t even fully forgiven myself for yet, which is, in and of itself, sinful.
If we’re honest, it’s all about comparison, and the devil loves when we compare ourselves to others. “Well at least I’m not…” and “The things I’ve done wrong are nothing compared to…” have started many a self-righteous monologue in my head of how I am holier than someone else.
But, as judgmental as I can sometimes be, I am part of the Church. I am part of the Body of Christ. I sit next to you on Sunday mornings. I am one of God’s chosen people, on mission, to be a light to the world. Sometimes my light is a little dim, though. But that’s when being around others who are tripping down the road to righteousness comes in handy. For the people who call the church “a crutch,” you betcha. I’ve fallen so many times, but the Church is right there to pick me up and keep me moving forward.
I have been beaten up, bruised and wounded. We all have. The church building is really just a place of scratch-and-dent humans. But God is buffing away the scratches, a little at a time. And those dents? Well, I like to think those are just God’s fingerprints.
Show off God’s fingerprints. Those are the places where he has healed wounds and covered scars, the places of deep hurt and true growth. Those are the testimony makers. And then be humble enough to recognize his fingerprints on fellow sinners, instead of writing those people off as irreparable.
“…our time here isn’t meant to be spent forming opinions about the people we meet. It’s an opportunity to draw the kind of circles around them that grace has drawn around us, until everybody is on the inside.”
— Bob Goff, Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People