J Walking

Here are some more thoughts on that paragraph on love I quoted from Andrew Sullivan’s “blogalogue” with Sam Harris.

A decade ago noted evangelical author Phillip Yancey wrote a book called What’s So Amazing About Grace. As the title suggests, it was about that monosyballic word – grace… the freely given and unmerited favor and love of God.

Yancey opens the book with a story told to him by a friend who worked with the poor:

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 money 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.

Yancey continues:

What struck me about my friend’s story is that women much like this prostitute fled towards Jesus, not away from him. The worse a person felt about herself, the more likely she saw Jesus as a refuge. Has the church lost that gift? Evidently the down-and-out, who flocked to Jesus when he lived on earth, no longer feel welcome among his followers. What has happened?

Yancey’s sweep is too broad – there are so many “down-and-out” who do find their love, comfort, and grace in the arms of churches. But not enough. That should be a greater conviction to the church of Jesus Christ than fighting against abortion, gay marriage or any other “social issue.” Paul said it well – you can do anything but if you don’t have love your work is useless.

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