Sometimes we forget that everyone has an ugly backstory of some sort. Differing levels of gravity, but ugly nonetheless.
In the Church, we have an unwritten and unfortunate ranking system for brokenness. Some brokenness is acceptable, and while we typically would never dare to say this out loud, some is not. The greedy politician? Great, welcome, Christ can change him! The pregnant teenager or effeminate gay man? Sometimes we doubt that the grace of God is able to reach into their situations.
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield writes in The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, “Rahab the Harlot. Mary Magdalene. We love these people between the pages of our Bible, but we don’t want to sit at the Lord’s Table with them – with people like me – drinking from a common cup.”
“That’s the real ringer: the common cup-that is, our common origin in depravity. We are only righteous in Christ and in him alone. But that’s a hard pill to swallow, especially if you give yourself kudos for good choices.”
When we realize that we ARE Rahab, Judas, and Mary Magdalene, our approach to lost and broken people should completely change. When we condemn people in their brokenness, we really are saying, “I think my choices have made me good enough, and you need to reach my level.” We forget that we are ALL lost people that Jesus died to save.
The only difference between us and the lost is the Cross; it’s nothing we accomplished on our own. The person who is a struggling follower of Christ is not someone to shun or condemn; God gave them brothers and sisters who aren’t struggling with the same things for the very purpose of carrying one another’s burdens, encouragement, and accountability. We aren’t called to only be around perfect people; we’re called to enter into broken lives, and shine the light of Christ in the darkness.
When we reject Rahab, we really reject the grace and mercy offered to us by Christ. No, the Bible doesn’t preach grace as an excuse for sin. However, God is perfectly just-we are not. Our goal on earth should be to show grace to the sinner, show love and light to the lost, and point broken people to Christ. This is done when we meet people in the midst of their broken and dirty lives; when we’re willing to enter into the mess and reach them where they are instead of telling them they’re “not good enough” Christ will be magnified.
Rejecting Rahab is not an option for us because Christ didn’t reject us. If you look at Rahab’s story in the Book of Joshua, she was shown grace, and in turn, was part of great things; you never know how people’s stories will end. Love people where they are. Point them to Christ. Let HIM change them radically from the inside out, just like he promises to change every single person who follows Him.