Growing up in a conservative Christian house when I lived with my Dad (who was saved during my parent’s divorce) I knew where all the potential evil of this world resided. I was made aware of all the pitfalls around me and how awful it would be for me, my future and my soul if I ever wandered off the straight and narrow. There were all types of things to fear that basically covered every sense except smell. Don’t see, don’t hear, don’t touch, don’t taste anything that could possibly taint you or cause you to stumble. I can see now after a season of turning my back on God, that it is good to be aware of these things, but I believe Jesus had a less protectionist approach when it came to the culture, the world and the people in it.
Do Not Fear
Perhaps the thing that I see happening the most is a fear-driven mindset within the church. Being aware and in the world, while not participating is part of living a lifestyle of holiness unto the Lord. Yet, we know that Jesus never avoided or feared those who were lost, broken, entrenched in their sin and lifestyles. His presence alone would cause people to choose something different. His healing touch would change their paradigms about their own lives and their own potential.
Culture Reveals Brokenness
A great example of this in scripture is the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. Jesus breaks all the cultural and religious barriers in this powerful interaction. His heart is to see her healed and to serve God. An interesting note here is that the woman had 4 husbands and was living with another man. This has been portrayed as a woman stuck in sin, and Jesus called her out on it. When you study Hebrew culture, you will soon learn that she was not dealing with a lack of commitment, or bound to some adulterous spirit. What she was dealing with was a life of rejection.
Women could not get a divorce in her day and age, in that culture. The reality is that a man could divorce for any reason he wanted and discard the woman on a whim. The Samaritan woman had been rejected many times and the pain of rejection was revealed by the Savior of the world. Learning to worship in Spirit and in Truth required she be accepted for who she was. Her pain had to be attended to, shown that even her stigmatized life and standing was valuable to the Savior. The freedom she encounters because Jesus saw past her circumstances and to the deep needs of her heart shows us the power that comes when one person is seen, valued, forgiven and called to break free from what is really holding them back.
Blessing Releases Healing
Jesus’ desire for us is to do the same. Not to just call out the issues and lifestyle differences in front of us. He instead desired we see people for who they truly are and to bless them. We all know our failures, our faults, our weaknesses, and the Holy Spirit is working on everyone for us all to see our value according to the Father. We have true value because of the price paid for us, and Christ paid that price for us willingly and freely. Our role is not to point at all of the evil in fear, but to love with the heart of Christ, bless those we disagree with and awaken hearts to the love and freedom that comes in forgiveness through Christ.
Chris Bassett is the Senior Leader at Harvest Valley Worship Center. www.hvwc.com.