A few months ago my blog was a story that not only set me thinking but also struck a chord within my heart. Well, I’ve found another one; as told by the writer Philip Yancy. The story describes the inner dynamic that we need to bind our three question marks together and so define who and what we are as a church.
A prostitute came to me in wretched straits, homeless, sick, unable to buy food for her two-year-old daughter. Through sobs and tears, she told me she had been renting out her daughter – two years old! – to men interested in kinky sex. She made more renting out her daughter for an hour than she could earn on her own in a night. She had to do it, she said, to support her own drug habit. I could hardly bear hearing her sordid story. For one thing, it made me legally liable—I’m required to report cases of child abuse. I had no idea what to say to this woman. At last I asked if she had ever thought of going to a church for help. I will never forget the look of pure, naive shock that crossed her face. “Church!” she cried. “Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They’d just make me feel worse.”
This story demonstrates why it is not only a matter of getting the question marks right; it’s also about getting our hearts and souls right too.
I found this story in Yancy’s book ‘What’s so Amazing about Grace?’ His heart and soul is for the church to conform not to the rampant ‘ungrace’ we see around us in our world and society, defined as you get what you deserve, but instead by the breath-taking nature of God’s grace. Here we are constantly learning and discovering that God never treats us as we deserve and as a church we’re to imitate this with all relationships inside and outside of the church; as this is what Jesus would do.
The point of the three question marks is to remind us of the many ways in which we have experienced this amazing grace of God in Jesus so that others may experience it too. Whether as a family, within our structures, in what we believe and in how we live it out may it all be grace shaped, grace flavoured and grace empowered that people won’t say that we make them feel worse, but instead that they feel loved.