All of a sudden, I found myself presented before two people, both of whom desperately needed Christ, and one of whom was more than willing to talk about it. In fact, this woman had been very hurt in her life. She had been divorced, and told by the Roman Catholic Church that she was no longer welcome to attend their church on account of her having been divorced. Her being rejected by the church had caused her to look elsewhere for spiritual help, and she “found it” (so to speak), in the New Age Movement. Now, she believed that she had been reincarnated, no less than four times! What a shame when the church rejects those who themselves feel rejected by society. For what person is there who has not gone through a divorce situation that has not felt rejected by society?
Jesus said that he came not to condemn, but to save that which was lost. “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:17) We must properly understand the context of this passage, which has to do with rescuing those who have been hurt and wounded in society. These are the ones that are usually a lot more open to receiving Christ as Savior, because they have clearly seen their own weaknesses. But the proud and the arrogant, these are the ones who are hardened to the gospel and unable to receive it. It is hard to reach such people (Luke 16:19-31). All we need to do is look to the story of Lazarus (a poor beggar) and the rich man to validate our claims. The rich man went to hell, not because he was rich, but because he was hardened by “the deceitfulness of riches”. In Matthew 13:22, we read that “the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word.”
This woman was so bound by her having been rejected by the church, that not once, not twice, but perhaps in the order of twenty or thirty times I had to keep on repeating to her her value as a human being. Her value, I explained, was not a result of what she did, or failed to do. But rather, it was entirely dependent upon two things. First, she was created in God’s image (Genesis 5:1-2). Second, Christ had died for her (Romans 5:8). These alone determined her worth as a human being, not whether or not she was divorced or had committed adultery, or had done any number of other things that were a result of sin on the part of perhaps one or more persons. Was she not valuable? But ahh … to convince a person that they were valuable in God’s eyes, this was another story, especially after years of having been rejected by those who were in authority! I had to think of a way to convince her that she could be forgiven and accepted by God. I had to be God’s ambassador at such a time as this!
“What is the worst sin you can think of?” I asked her.
“I suppose eating meat,” she replied.
“Move on to another sin,” I sensed the Holy Spirit telling me!
“What about the second worst sin?” I asked her. “What do you think that would be?”
“I suppose committing adultery,” she responded.
“So committing adultery is worse than getting divorced, right?” I asked.
“Right,” she said.
“Good,” I thought to myself. “I can handle that one, because Scripture has something good to say about being forgiven of the sin of adultery.”
Fortunately, I had my Bible right there, and so turned to John chapter 8. This is the passage about the woman taken in adultery – condemned by her captors, the religious elite, no less. We read the passage together, and I carefully explained to her that if Jesus could forgive this woman for committing adultery, then surely he could also forgive her for being divorced (if indeed she committed any sin).
The big question was on its way.
Stay tuned for part 5!