Reflections by John Stell August 2022
Many Western Christians nowadays are quick to become indignant at a perceived offense towards God, whatever it may be. I can recall a blasphemous version of the Last Supper for instance, in which an artist replaced the disciples with prostitutes, thieves, and the like (which is exactly what Christ did in the Gospels--sit and eat with outcasts). Many were furious over this depiction of the Last Supper. However, the irony is that many Western Churches fail to ACT on doing what Christ commanded. To feed the hungry, visit the imprisoned, clothe the naked, and so on. Christ ministered to the outcasts of His society – not those who deemed themselves worthy and having no need of a physician.
Metropolitan Anthony Bloom put it best, in saying that each broken human being carries beauty within, no matter how twisted it has become. Christ was able to pull that beauty out from under the depths, raising it to the surface and resurrecting it. In the course of time, those who were willing to be healed by Him were made totally whole again, in every sense. And that is the case in the world before, the world at present, and the world still yet to come.
Those who are broken should always come to Christ—manifested in His Church. It is in this way that Christ still ministers to the outcasts, the untouchables. It is through our actions, words, and thoughts, that He still has the ability to enlighten our darkness and the darkness of those around us. Even the gravest of sinners should never be turned away from the Church, so long as they are willing to shed the yoke of their past and allow God to change their hearts. This is especially true in our current times. Metropolitan Bloom has another great example in what is said to be the shortest sermon he ever gave:
“Last night a woman with a child came to this church. She was in trousers and with no headscarf. Someone scolded her. She left. I do not know who did that, but I am commanding that person to pray for her and her child to the end of his days to God for their salvation. Because of you she may never go to church again.”
Metropolitan Bloom shows in this circumstance that it is never acceptable to turn away anyone seeking Christ. However, we must also be diligent not to misinterpret Christ’s mercy for a blind acceptance of sin. The world will always twist that which is good and merciful to try and lead us astray. The idea that somehow God is okay with us however we are and does not want us to change, is purely new age propaganda. This is not the truth however, and never has been. Nowhere in the Gospels does Christ say that “Come as you are,” is synonymous with “Stay as you are.” Quite the contrary.
Christ’s presence and teachings continually challenged all around Him to change their hearts, to come back to God, and to allow transformation to take place. Eventually, the light and heat from a burning kiln will radically change the object being placed in the furnace, purifying it and calling forth its beauty. If we are courageous enough to seek and approach God, we become that object placed in the furnace. Yet we must maintain a soberness of thought, realizing that this process is both transformative and at times, painful.
To that point, I refer back to the Gospel story of the woman caught in adultery, whom was granted the grace and mercy of Christ. The world willfully discards an important command that Christ gave her: “Go your way, but do not sin again.” What clearer evidence is there? God was merciful to this woman, sparing her a humiliating death at the hands of worldly people, but He also asked her to change her sinful ways. He did not condone her actions; He forgave them and told her to stop doing them.
Many folks feel we may be entering the end times, the end of ages. One gentleman I spoke with recently pointed to all the natural disasters occurring as of late. But truthfully, disaster and calamity occur in every generation, and likewise, a spirit of antichrist occurs in every generation. In my estimation, this serves a two-fold purpose: a reminder to all humanity that this world is fallen, and secondly, as a call to return to God—to be ready and waiting at all times. The problem is that humanity as a whole closes its ears and fails to heed these warnings, generation after generation.
Yet here is our opportunity to listen and change our hearts. To refuse to believe the lies of this world. To refuse to condone such things as abortion and homosexuality. To call out sin for the lie that it is, while embracing and loving those who have sinned. Repentance is not about condemnation—it is the recognition of what is true and right, created by God, and having the courage to turn back to the truth. So then, we should step forward with our other broken sisters and brothers in Christ, and carry each other's burdens. We should never condemn each other, but instead help one another to turn back to the truth in repentance and a spirit of forgiveness.
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, enlighten our darkness.”