23 Jul Rahab the Prostitute
On Sunday I preached from Joshua 2 which is where we are first introduced to “Rahab the prostitute.” Rahab is a fascinating character. She is mentioned four times in scripture: in Joshua’s story of the fall of Jericho; in the genealogy of Christ in Matthew 1; in Hebrews 11 where she is commended for her faith; and in James 2 where she is cited as an example of righteous deeds. In every case except the genealogy, this woman who plays such an important role in the life of ancient Israel is introduced as “Rahab the prostitute.” It seems that despite her faith and her heroic and righteous actions, this rather notorious label persisted. Rahab’s story raises some important issues. For one thing, we can realize that God doesn’t need perfect people to work with. I think God is much more interested in our openness and willingness to be used rather than our “spiritual resumes.” Much to the surprise (and horror!) of some, the church is not a “holy huddle” comprised of people who have it all together. We are a people who walk imperfectly with God but it is the relationship—loving God and being loved by God—that matters. God takes us as we are. Rahab didn’t have to “clean up her act” before God would accept her. We are, by and large, a performance-driven culture. Even from early ages children are taught to compete in sports or for grades. Then the stakes get higher. We compete to get into the right school or to get a great job or a coveted promotion or a bigger raise. Almost unconsciously we set in motion a basic attitude towards life that says my value is based on my success. I will be accepted if I do “a, b and c” and achieve “x, y and z.” It is easy to allow that attitude to invade our relationships, but it is deadly to do so. We hunger to know we are loved just because—just because we exist apart from anything we do. That’s the assurance we have with God. God loves us profoundly, more deeply than we can even understand, much less express. God sees and knows us down to our cores and without changing a single thing about us God says, “I love you.” It is that love that motivates me to want to be a truer reflection of Jesus Christ. I don’t change in order to be accepted or loved by God but I do want to change because I am already accepted and loved by God. As long as we’re seeking acceptance or love based on what we do, we will never find it and we’ll be exhausted by trying. It is a hamster’s wheel that traps us and keeps us constantly running and continually spinning. Perhaps you’re ready to get off and try a different way.
I invite you to say “yes” to the love of God.