A Whore, the Pharisees, and Jesus: Living In the Margins

     Someone once said that “you are known by the company you keep”. I dont necessarily believe this to be true, but many people I know would tell me not to hang out with “sinners” for this very reason. Now, a “sinner” in this context is almost always defined as someone with a visible “sin,” as defined by whatever this particular person doesn’t agree with. My counter to this close-minded definition of “sin” would be that we ALL have sin in our life, even sin within the depths of our hearts that may not even be known to us. Who are you to take the place of God, judging one’s heart? But I digress. However, I would like to ask you a question: have you ever examined the life of Jesus? 
   There’s one particular story that sticks out to me. In Luke 7:36-50, Jesus is hanging out at Simon the Pharisee’s house, when a woman enters the house and starts anointing Jesus’ feet with perfume. In this story, it becomes exponentially clear that the Pharisees did not exactly agree with whom Jesus spent his time with. Simon essentially thought Jesus was a fraud due to the fact that Jesus let some “sinful woman” (in his own words) touch him. Contextually, Ancient Jews believed that when you touched something or someone unclean, you yourself were therefore unclean. In other words, this Simon guy is now viewing Jesus himself as unclean. 
     Furthermore, women weren’t exactly the “elite” of this culture. Can you imagine this scene? Essentially, there were people in this house that were probably thinking “how could this man let some unclean whorish woman touch him? He’s no son of God. He’s no prophet. He’s scum!” On a small scale, I can resonate with that.
     For me personally, I’ve been labeled “heretic,” “gay lover,” “drunk,” etc. etc. by fellow church leaders and I’ve come to this conclusion: I used to put a lot of stock in what others thought about me. Now, I couldn’t give two shits. I’m okay with the labels. Why? Because what Jesus Christ thinks and whether or not I’m honoring Christ with my life are much more important to me than what others think. And let’s be honest: Jesus would be in the bars; He would be in the gay clubs; He would be in the spaces of our culture in which American Christianity deems as “sinful.” And He would tune out the voices.
     It should not shock me when those within American Christianity automatically default to calling someone “unclean” due to the company they keep. It should not shock me when some within American Christianity outcast, judge, and condemn single moms, teenage mothers, those who identify as LGBTQIA, ex-offenders/felons, etc. The list goes on. These days, it seems that if you aren’t a white basic, traditional (whatever the hell that means) family, you’re an outcast in the church. Don’t agree? Go to almost any church worship gathering on a Sunday and survey the demographics.
     Unfortunately, in a lot of ways, American Christianity today at large, has become the new Pharisee and the Church continues to marginalize God’s creation due to a “blemish” that is quite frankly man-made. We, in the Church, are too quick to forget that we are ALL made in God’s image and are His children and His creation (Genesis 1-2).
     It’s easy to let negative voices weigh you down, but do you know what is extremely beautiful about the story in Luke’s Gospel? This “sinful woman” isn’t concerned about what others think. Do you know what, or rather who, she’s focused on? That’s right. She has her eyes fixed on Jesus. She literally gives him her very best. She anoints his feet with expensive perfume! She blocks out the naysayers and focuses solely on Jesus. How beautiful is that?
     I, myself, often get so caught up in the shaming of my fellow church leaders, that it can easily  – if I’m not careful – turn my focus off of Jesus. Now, I believe that church leaders need to be called into accountability; for that, I do not apologize. However, as a follower of Christ, I need to daily root myself in Jesus Christ and focus my eyes there. Anoint his feet with the finest perfumes I have to offer. Block out the voices of the naysayers.
     Therefore, I will continue to spend time with those that the Church shuns. I will continue to stand with and for the marginalized. I will continue to call church leaders into accountability. And above all else, I will continue to turn my eyes upon Jesus, bringing him the very best I can offer.
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