Saturday, February 4, 2012

Invalid Judgment

            The Teacher had made such a profound impact on the community that the Leader invited him to dinner. His public renown was incredible and as the undisputed authority in the village, this Teacher needed to be examined and validated to ensure he was authentic.  After all, the village Leader could not afford the risk of a rogue educator running amok and upsetting the simple tranquility of his village and their deeply-held religious traditions.
            The Teacher made his way into the Leader’s house to be welcomed with all the respect and dignity his profound reputation called for. The table was set with the Leader’s finest china and silver. The rich smells of exquisite cuisine were flowing out of the kitchen as the dinner party took their seats at the regal table. By all indications, tonight they would all feast like kings.
            No sooner had they sat down than a disgusting creature entered the room.  Her clothes vividly revealed her gangly figure as she dauntingly skirted past the Leader and made her way to the teacher. Sulking behind her long and scraggly hair, the woman’s hardened face was difficult to make out, but the Leader knew instantly who—and what—she was. More so than the teacher’s, her scandalous reputation was well known in the community.
            The Leader’s first instinct was to have her quickly and forcibly removed from his home. It was, in fact, the first time a person of such ill repute was ever allowed in his home. Rather than treat her as he knew she deserved, however, the Leader paused and waited to see what the teacher would do. It was a test and, at least in the Leader’s mind, the Teacher was about to fail—and fail he did!
            The woman went straight to the Teacher and immediately broke open a beautiful jar of perfume which she then poured over the Teacher’s feet. Sobbing uncontrollably, she then wiped the Teacher’s feet with her hair and to the amazement of all present, the Teacher did nothing.
            The unanticipated test now complete, the Leader knew everything he needed to know. This man was not worth the fine reputation he had amassed. His credibility was as worthless as the heathen sinner now sobbing at his feet. “Clearly this man is a first-rate fraud,” the Leader thought quietly to himself with a sedulously satisfied grin. “If this man were authentic, he’d know better than to let one of her kind make such a spectacle of herself in front of him, let alone actually touch him! Disgusting!”
            Looking up, and clearly discerning his innermost thoughts, the Teacher asked the now incredulous Leader a question. “You are a talented business man so please tell me. If you had the option to forgive debts and you forgave one person a very small debt and forgave another person a very large debt, which of the two would be more grateful?” “The one with the large debt forgiven,” the Leader answered. “Consider the debt she’s been forgiven,” the Teacher continued. “Her great debt to sin has been forgiven and she is repaying me with her sincere gratitude.”
            “You,” the Teacher said to his contemptuous host, “You have offered me no such gratitude. My welcome into this home was filled with false pretense and suspicion. And look now. You are so quick judge this woman when she has come for forgiveness and redemption. And yet, you have no clue how your very sins have not only contributed to her misery, but blackened your soul to God’s love.” The Leader sat in angry silence as the Teacher’s words penetrated his cold and unforgiving heart.
            This loose paraphrase of Luke 7:36-50 vividly reminds us that when we are quick to judge, it is perhaps our own hearts that are the most at risk for God’s judgment!