I grew up in a church in which one had to be "properly dressed" (ie. pants or jeans, no "burmudas" or shorts) for service. But last Sunday, perhaps tired of religious formality, I decided to go to church in shorts.
We’re approaching Good Friday, and sitting there in church in what felt mentally to me like a mini-skirt, I choked - just a teenie weenie bit - at the reminder of the brutality of the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross, and the acceptance that came along with it - mental mini-skirts and all. One of the songs went -
"Come to the Father, though your gift is small
Broken hearts, broken lives, He will take them all"
I’ve never had such an adverse reaction to Good Friday before. And it struck me then that we are entering a sort of International Sinners’ and Broken Peoples’ Week.
Despite the distance that the institutional church sometimes puts between itself and non-believers (and some types of non-believers are for some reason worse than others), Jesus spent His last few hours on his earth eating, drinking, washing the feet, and giving a hug and kiss to those who would deny or even betray Him.
I grew up thinking that there can be no worse offense than betraying the faith the way that Judas did, and that may well be true. But despite that it was to Judas that Jesus passed a piece of bread at dinner - an offer of continuing fellowship - and whom Jesus hugged and kissed in the Garden of Gethsamane - an offer of continuing affection.
Looking at my fellow believers I sometimes get the impression that we want to crucify others - Christian or not - who do not subscribe to the same faith or who do not subscribe to faith the same way that we do. (Reflect on how Christians have badly abused City Harvest recently). At other times, we just erect a wall between us and others, a moral barrier that seems impossible for anyone outside to cross over into.
Jesus did the exact opposite. He left the protection of the house in which he had dinner and went to the public park where He would be found, betrayed, and arrested. He allowed Himself to be crucified. He allowed His heart and body to be broken, so that He can hold out the prospect of reconciliation and fellowship to the very people who rejected and who would reject Him.
Jesus Friend of Sinners, founder and patron of International Sinners’ and Broken Peoples’ Week, break our hearts for what breaks yours.