|Kong Hee and the Sinner|
Luke 7:37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, 38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.” 41 “There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” 44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wipedthem with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” 48 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
At the sermon on Sunday, Pastor Kong Hee associated himself with the Prostitute, broken and in despair, but still giving all to God in worship. Just like the Prostitute, Pastor Kong and Sun said that they gave it all to Jesus acknowledging the love and presence of God in this difficult period of trials. Perhaps we are trusting God to give the verdict "your sins are forgiven". But first you must confess as a sinner to be forgiven.
What a fantastic church service, the loyal church members and supporters of Pastor Kong. We have singled out Pastor Kong but in a way the strict religious laws and prosperity based christianity in the churches was shared by all of us. If Pastor Kong was guilty, so are we. And we too share in His brokenness as a body of Christ and yearn for the love of God, the assurance of salvation that God is still with us.
The CHC I remembered was one where we were encouraged to look good and the leaders were supposed to be in jacket, neat and smart, and sanctified. We were the head and not the tail. We were to be at our best, and to give God our best.
If we look poor and scantily dressed then no one would come to God because it did not reflect Jesus. However, sometimes what is in us is much more important that the outside impression. Jesus was more vary about the skeletons in the white washed appearance of the tombstones he aptly described the Pharisees. Once this protrayal of spotless white is compromised, the brandname and image will be lost.
And the faith and hope in God by the Prostitute was actually more holier than the religious leader who was worshipped and idolised.
Jesus was invited to eat at the house of the Pharisee, a religious person of faith having a leadership role to ensure that the community abides by the religious laws and be punished and singled out if they had failed to do so. The Pharisees were the keepers of the law.
The Pharisee was a religious leader, rich and powerful, admired by the populace for his religious observance and holiness. He probably had invited Jesus to his home to establish a useful relationship in view of Jesus' increasing popularity. So are many mega church pastors living in their luxurious homes and good lifestyle.
You would see the Pharisees preaching the religious law of God and the Ten commandments calling on brimstone and condeming those who broke the religious laws as vile sinners. At the bottom of his vilest condemnation would be the Prostitutes, the worst of the sinners, worthy to be put to death by stonning as a mandatory punishment. There was no mercy nor grace only judgement.
The Pharisees are like the Anglican South, the Assemblies of God, and the mega churches. For the last decade, they have stood on the high pedestal of the church condemning gays as the vilest sinners not even worthy to be given work, and only fit to be thrown into prison.
It takes a lot of faith to worship God when you have nothing. The Prostitute had nothing - being reviled and mocked as a sinner by the entire town, say 30,000 strong. She was not loved but hated. Was she at fault? probably not for being a prostitute was often an economic necessity just to survive. It was more than a job, it was basic survival. She had little choice to be in this field.
The Prostitute likely live in the streets having no home to speak of. She was abused and her body not loved but used for sexual pleasures. She needed to feel loved and not used, nor condemned by the religious people of faith.
The Prostitute was undignified, dirty and uncouth. Her mattered and tangled/oily hair smelt bad. Yet, she saw Jesus from a-far a different kind of religious leader. Unlike all others, Jesus saw and valued her. She knew that Jesus did not condemn her, and had forgiven her. She was either used or hated by the community and religion but not given dignity.
The Prostitute risked her life to "crossover" to the house of the wealthy religious leader who could have easily thrown her into jail. Yet, the Pharisee was restrained because Jesus was the guest. The woman needed to come out of the closet, to come out to God and to show integrity much beyond the people of faith.
The Prostitute gave her last item of worth to annoint Jesus, money that could have helped her to stay alive for a few years more.
But there was no point to life anymore, for her life was gone, rejected and abused by all, a pain to continue living in absolute lack. Yet, she had faith in Jesus because she knew the depths of God's grace and mercy in her life.
The prostitute put God, put Jesus on the spot because as a religious leader, the sight of a prostitute annointing Jesus and licking his feet would be a sensational news for she was considered unclean. When Jesus accepted her gift of annointing of perfume in public, and responds to her, Jesus was willing to take on her shame and to identify and stand by her. Jesus was willing to take on her sin and be of one with her in her brokennness.
Jesus stood in the middle of judgement seat. On his left was the rich, powerful and respected Pharisee, the good bible believing person. On the right was the poor, and rejected outcast of society. If the women was wealthy and have had everything, lived in the best area of town, served by maids, and have thousands of enduring supporters, she would not have known the depths and mercy of God's grace. It is when you have nothing, your spirit, soul and body totally broken that we will treasure and count our blessings.
It was a Cross over from the depths of shame and pain to seek acceptance and love from Jesus, God in the flesh. She didn't need to hide anymore but to live in integrity in her circumstances and not feel ashamed. This is true integrity and not because you were found out to live in a high lifestyle using money taken from others.
The woman was broken because everything was taken and stolen from her - her faith, her dignity and self worth. She did not receive love nor treasured as a person of significant worth in the sight of religion. She was a sinner breaking God's law and deserving death. But she already died in her soul.
If the Prostitute had visited the mega churches, I am not sure whether the doors would be welcoming. I remember not too long ago, that a transgender friend was taken summarily to the prayer room for counselling when she visited a mega church at Suntec.
More than a decade ago, when Pastor Kong Hee called out for gays to be excommunicated from the church, I saw the shame and rejection in their faces as they walked out of the service one by one. Many of them never returned to any church again and they are the real porstitutes bringing their sacrifice of praise to God.
Pastor Kong said that we are to worship God in truth which he counts as integrity. The truth is not integrity per say, but that the way to God was neither through the religious mountain in Samaria or the religious laws of Jersualem but by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. For many of us, we have lost our integrity, we have lost everything when we should have stood up against the Pharisees.
I am reminded of the song "Blessed Assurance" by Fanny Crosby. She had a very tough life, yet she didn't blame God. Without sight, life was taken away from her, yet she gave God what little she had.
The Gay community is the Prostitute rejected by the community at large and considered as vile sinners by people of faith. It is time, we begin to crossover from darkness into light, to live in integrity and show our faces to the public because in doing so, we can worship God with all our soul, spirit and body as the woman did.
Perhaps our mandate is to bring the prostitutes, the Gay Christians, back to God, for Jesus loves us, this we know very well. When we reach the point of grace, broken to our last strength, then we shall see God.
May God's grace and mercy be upon pastor Kong and Sun. As they seek God in the time of brokenness, may peace comes into their lives that God is still in control whatever happens and all things work for good in those who loved Jesus. They faced a lost of everything they had worked for, and they had indeed given all for the Kingdom of God.
May God's will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus' name we pray.