Spread the love

“The greatest expression of the Father’s Love, appeared to the uninformed witnesses of the crucifixion, like a blasphemer being cursed by God.” – Brook Potter.

On Christmas Eve 2014, some friends of mine called me out for a Christmas party. There was nothing unusual with their request, but as the evening went on, they decided to change venues. Many do not understand the relationships I have with my friends, so they wouldn’t understand what happened next. But a few hours into our meeting, I found myself driving down to meet my friends in the new location, which happened to be a brothel.

Now I understand that not every believer is in a position to go into places like this. And if less mature believers are still struggling with the habits of their members, of course I don’t recommend that kind of behaviour. I’m no stranger to going into places that many believers would never venture. I’ve ministered in the Red Light district in Bangkok Thailand, I’ve been through many bars, parties and fetes, and even been part of street outreach during the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Festival.

None the less, this Christmas eve, as i’m driving down to the brothel, a strange thought enters my mind. I tell my passenger that I’ll park just around the corner, so anyone who sees my car, will not see it parked right outside the brothel. After all, I do have a ministry reputation and most people will not take the time to understand what I was doing, but would much rather think the worst. So I figured I would just make it easier on myself, and avoid the “Appearance of Evil,” and I parked my car on one of the adjacent roads, out of sight from the main thoroughfare.

As we walked up to the venue, our friends called my phone and told me there is a cover charge on entrance, and, as he knows I generally do not walk with cash, he volunteered to pay for my entrance. However, at the doorway to get in, the guard took a look at me, and waved me in without any charge. The Favour of the Lord, perhaps?

Inside, our group grabbed a booth, ordered some beers, and started to talk, as a few of our friends went off to engage some of the house services. While in the midst of our conversations, another thought came to mind, that brought me to tears. It was the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus, as it is written in Luke 19:1-10.

Zacchaeus, was Chief among the tax collectors and had gotten rich by taking money from his own people, for the occupying Roman Empire, and, as a result, he was hated among his own people. Learning of Jesus, and being of short stature, he climbed a sycamore tree to see him. But the real heart of the story is what Jesus did upon seeing him in the tree. Jesus shouted across the crowd, “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.”

Jesus did not come to him privately, as if to protect his reputation. Jesus didn’t hide the fact that he was going to dine with someone who was considered a dog by the other Jews. Neither was Jesus concerned with how this would appear to the religious, or how it would affect his public ministry. Jesus’ love for Zacchaeus looked scandalous!

In that moment, I realized that I had not truly loved my friends honestly, above my ministry. I was still concerned with what others would think, and hence I tried to hide my presence by parking my car out of the way. Even if no one else thought it was a big deal, it was the heart of a Pharisee rising up in me, trying to put Ministry above loving people truly.

I started to weep to myself. When we left an hour or so later, I openly apologized to my friends for what I had done. Of course, they didn’t think anything of it, but I knew in my heart that I had not truly shown my friends how I’ve accepted and loved them as they are, even at their worst, without conditions. But being the friends that they were, they forgave me, and we went back to sharing old stories at one of their houses.

Some months later, I was invited to speak at a church event in Rio Claro, Trinidad. The host of the event got up and preached about his understanding of love. In the middle of his message he made a statement that “True Love never looks like sin!” Something inside me stirred from the Holy Spirit, as I understood the legalism that he was trying to pass off as Good News.

When I finally took to the stand, I made sure to point out that Jesus Christ, the full representation of the Father, did indeed look exceedingly sinful! The Pharisee called him an outright sinner (John 9:24), a drunk, a glutton, a friend of tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 11:19), a Sabbath breaker , a blasphemer (John 5:18) and even the Prince of devils, Beelzebub (Matthew 12:24).

I reminded the crowd that John 3:16 says that God so loved the world He sent his Son. That world was not a world full of Christians. It was a world full of pagan, homosexual, idol-worshiping, sexually-immoral heathens, and apostate Jews. But God loved them first, then blessed them with his greatest blessing, his Son.

And ultimately, the greatest expression of love by the crucifixion, shown by the Father looked like a violent death and punishment of a man, who was stripped naked, beaten and ultimately cursed by God. For us today, the imagery looked more like a horror movie, than a church film. It is only with hindsight that Christians can look back and see the event for what it was. But at the time, before the writings of the New Testament and the Revelation of Paul, when all of Jesus’ disciples had abandoned him except John and the women, that expression of love seemed full of wrath and judgement.

The truth is, we cannot protect our image and reputation and still love people who are in the dirt. We talk about giving it all for the gospel, but most of us would hide from a photograph that may happen to show a beer in it, for fear of what others will think. I understand that everyone is growing and everyone is in a different place, but this one thing I understand, If God is love, and Jesus is the express image of that Father, then we can safely say that true love, often looks exceedingly sinful, and should cost us our religious reputation.

Phil Drysdale talking about Jesus never avoided the Appearance of Evil.

https://youtu.be/QxFSwApV4Aw

Spread the love
Brook Potter, a native of the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, has been a minister of the Finished Work of the Cross, including the ministry to heal the sick since 2009.

18 COMMENTS

  1. The carnal perspective of scripture in this article deeply grieves me.

    In the account of Zaccheus, Jesus did not sit next to Zaccheus while he conned people and “show him love”, rather he ate with Zaccheus at his home after Zaccheus had become repentant of his sin in his heart. Here Jesus showed that he cared for Zaccheus as a person, but did not condone his sin. In fact, after Zaccheus resolved to repay all he had stolen (demonstrating his changed mindset), Jesus said “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10″For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” – Luke19:9,10.

    Similarly, in the case of Mary Magdalene, who many assume to the be the prostitute, out of whom 7 devils came, Jesus fellowships with her and allows her to wipe his feet with her hair. Again in her case we see that she gave up her sins and followed Jesus. The Bible does not give any account of Jesus “liming” in her brothel to let her know that he loved her by appearing to be unperturbed or indifferent to her sin.

    Do not be deceived my brothers, Titus 2:11-14 says:

    “1 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

    James 5:19, 20
    “19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

    The tenor of scripture shows that Christ loved us while we yet sinners, but he did not leave us as such. Similarly, as christians, our love cannot be a condoning or identifying with sinful activity and the absence of drawing all sinners to repentance. I find that this article rides the line of such, and carries with it the heretical undertone that I have found to be a staple in your recent articles. I usually refrain from comment, but for the sake of other readers, I could not let this one pass.

    Galatians 6:7,8
    “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.…”

    • LOL, Oh, Liselle, you seem to be missing the forest for the trees…

      First of all the article is not about Ministry, it’s about Love, but the great deception of the Modern Church is that Love and Ministry equal the Same thing. I’ll be addressing this in an upcoming article. But as a preview to that article I will point out that in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul listed all the Ministry and Manifestations of the Spirit he could have, but counts all of them as nothing if he doesn’t have Love. Showing that love and Ministry are not synonymous, but do in fact overlap at times.

      Secondly, nowhere in the article have I condoned any sin. Anymore than Jesus defending the woman in the act of Adultery was CONDONING her sin. But you have read the events of Zaccheaus backwards. Jesus made the offer in verse 5, BEFORE Zaccheaus resolved to pay back in the future, his gains gotten by false means. Jesus ate with him after the change, but Jesus had already decided to do that before Zaccheaus Changed and resolved to pay back his ill-gotten gains, which is the point of the narrative, the Love part comes first, the Ministry is the by product.

      You got it right with your statement with Mary Magdalene, “Jesus fellowships with her and allows her to wipe his feet with her hair.” It was the very fact that Jesus fellowshiped with people who were seen as less than favourable that brought the change to many people’s lives. And the act of wiping Jesus feet with her hair, was extremely scandalous, as a woman to reveal one’s hair in Ancient Israel was the equivalent to Nudity! Jesus didn’t seem to mind. Again Jesus Loved First, Ministry was a by product.

      Titus 2:11-14, Amen. Unless you’re accusing me of indulging in ungodliness this verse has nothing to do with the article. The alternative is you’re accusing the Unbelievers of not turning from ungodliness, which of course would be heights of foolishness. How could one expect, Unbelievers to Act like Believers without any fellowship with Christ? That would be like expecting a Cat to act like a Dog when it’s still a cat. I hope that’s not what you’re saying.

      James 5:19, 20. Again, this is a verse applying to Believers. Unless you’re accusing me of being in error, then this has no baring on the article.

      Galatians 6:7,8, again, is talking to believers. Unless you believe i’ve sown some unrighteousness, this has nothing to do with the article.

      Because you seem to only value ministry, you seem to not notice that you very statement agrees with my article, “The tenor of scripture shows that Christ loved us while we yet sinners…”

      My article is addressing the first half of this statement. I said nothing of ministry, because all too often, as you have demonstrated, believers ignore the first part, and only focus on the second part. Our Love of sinners is not condoning, anymore than Jesus loving the prostitutes, tax collectors or Judas Iscariot was condoning to their actions. But it brought pretty much the same reaction from the Pharisee in Jesus day, as you’re giving me now.

      Seeing as you have misread the story of Zaccheus, you’ve argued a straw man about “ministry value” which the article was not about, and quoted scriptures that talk about believers to try and apply them out of context to unbelievers, doesn’t give you much credibility to talk about heresy tones. I’m happy to discuss and explain any of my articles, because i’m pretty sure that if you think there’s heresy, it’s because you don’t understand them.

    • I think this is another example of the same kind of thinking that Deon was displaying before:

      When Christians idolize “changing behavior,” when it comes to simply loving people, they are left with loving for the purpose of ensuring that they appear to be “an authentic christian” rather than just loving people because love itself is the end.

      They are left to come up with qualifications as to what it means to love when we see the Samaritan was in no way concerned with the “manifestation of fruit” in the life of the man beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. The Samaritan’s expression of love was to simply be there and serve the man’s need.

      Let’s not forget that this is the parable that Jesus gave to address the question of what it means to “Love to one’s neighbor”…

  2. So I’m a little bit confused about the message of this story. Were you at the brothel to spread God’s word? To talk to some of the prostitutes and see if you could influence their lives? Or just there to hang out with your friends who were engaging in some of the “services.”

    I understand your point about showing love to your friends. However, on the other hand, if your friends know your profession and now see that you are essentially permitting this behavior by hanging out there with them and not actively trying to spread the good word or influence very sinful behavior, couldn’t that have a significant negative impact on all of their lives?

    • Hey Sam, thanks for reading the comment. This subject is very difficult for Christians to understand because they mistakenly equate Love with Evangelism. The post is about our willingness to Love, and that means getting into the dirt with people.

      Jesus did not set out to evangelize Zacchaeus, he went for dinner. Just as Jesus didn’t set out to do miracles in at the wedding feast. Or the number of instances that Jesus was said to be sociable with Harlots, Tax Collectors and Sinners. Evangelism happens best when it’s natural expression of my life. I do not go looking to evangelize. I go out and spend time with people, and opportunities present themselves.

      Secondly, if association with these people means we are condoning their behaviour, then we have a problem with Jesus associating with tax collectors, harlots, sinners, and not to mention a known thief by the name of Judas Iscariot among his inner circle. This is where the Church has lost it, as I said, We cannot love people in the dirt, and still try to protect our reputation or moralize at those who are in the dirt. Jesus was willing to be numbered with the transgressors and that’s the heart of Love.

      Thirdly, my presence would have done nothing to permit or disallow their behaviour. They were going there regardless of my presence or not. They would have done what they did regardless of my presence or not. In fact, if they had not done it, Just because I was there, that would have made them guilty of religious hypocrisy, as they really wanted to do something, but refrained for my benefit. My relationship with me friends, they are real and free to be themselves, and there is no need for faking, false pretences or dualistic behaviour.

      Lastly, my presence with them in the brothel, and elsewhere has had the opposite effect. They realize I’m not scared of these places. I’m not going to abandon them easily, nor am I judging them for what they do. Because of this, they trust me and have opened up tremendously with in times of trouble, and in those dark times, I have had plenty of time for Ministry.

      I have created a friendship of unconditional love, where they are free to be themselves, where the worse about them can be known, and they can be loved more, not abandoned or criticized, the relationships are seen as more real, and as such when I do evangelize, they know its from my heart, and not from wanting to rack up salvation boasting points. Evangelism from this perspective happens almost effortlessly, because the lost don’t feel like a target, they feel like a friend.

      If I had written the article, and talked all about evangelism, most believers would have missed the point. They would say, “Ah Yes! Anything for lost Souls.” But that’s not what it’s about, it’s about loving souls, lost and otherwise, because we’re told to love them. Not to get them saved, or get them to stop sinning, but because God loves them and we should express that Love for them unconditionally. Because we think Love means Evangelism we fight our believing brothers over doctrine, rather than loving them, because we think it’s our job to get other Christian to our doctrines. That’s why we have the denominations we have. But that’s not love, and the unbelieving World knows it, and my friends know it also.

      Love is the process of meeting people’s needs, expecting nothing in return. My friends had a need to spend more time with me, and I met it, with no expectation required of them in return. That’s the simple message of this article.

      I hope that helps.

  3. I’m sorry, at what point did the Author say he willingly partook of their lifestyle? The article basically says the author was willing to be number with the transgressors, it never said he actually engaged in any transgressions.

    Here’s the confusion Deon, you mistakenly equate loving rightly with evangelism. Which of course the article is not about evangelism, it’s about Christians Loving Others rightly. If Love and Evangelism were the same thing, we could not love our fellow brothers and sister who already believe. We wouldn’t be able to truly love those who have already been evangelized.

    Second, you’re assuming that true love is only true love if it results in a change of those around us. Again we have the problem of loving other believers. But more than that, it poses a problem with the religious leaders, the multitude that Jesus sent away, issues with Judas Iscariot and even Jesus own family that wanted to commit him for thinking he was the Son of God. Jesus loved all of them perfectly, even the non religious ones, and many of them remained unchanged.

    Lastly, You think that because no one else was transformed in the article, it amounts to nothing meaningful. That would be like saying that in the story of the Woman caught in the act of adultery which Jesus defended, is meaningless unless it resulted in the Man who also part took in the adultery also converted, not to mention the crowd wanting to stone her.

    Or Like saying the change that happened to Zaccheaus isn’t sufficient until it also resulted in the conversion of the entire household. But seeing as the authors of the New Testament under the inspiration of Holy Spirit, saw it fit to include the changes of these individuals and saw no need to comment of the affects of others around them, seem to be good evidence that the one conversion was enough for them. If you are going to apply that standard to the Author of the article, you best apply it to every story of scripture where it only accounts for the change of one individual, otherwise you’re being a hypocrite.

    Jesus seem to think the one change is enough. He is the Good Sheppard that leaves the 99 to go after the one. I’m just sorry that it’s not good enough for you.

  4. For you it may be more important that “a light sines” or “someone stands for what is morally good” or “some change occurs”, rather than truly accept others (weather they view life as we do or not) and treat with love.

    But that would mean that the underlying motivation for doing good is to “act like a christian”, rather than love in honesty and truth.

    I totally agree with Matt 7:20, however if you read Matt 7 in context you will see that “the fruits” are not good works… good works are actually shown in those verses to be antithetical of “good fruit”….

    Which makes Matt 7 yet another reason to be more concerned with truly loving others, rather than trying to look and and act the part of the “good christian”

  5. He obviously let his light shine brightly. I’m sure his friends were grateful of him accepting their way of life and his willingness to partake thereof.

    Matt. 7:20 wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

  6. Many christians believe that christianity is centrally about “changed lives”… which the majority of the time means either “christians changing the lives of others” or “I act better because I am a christian”

    While there is nothing wrong with lives being changed, I think to elevate this as the paramount thing is indicative of many of the problems within christianity. Christians look for “fruit” as proof of authenticity, rather than simply trying to exercise love (towards others both inside and outside of the church).

    This is a means for the modern christian to excuse themselves from Jesus’ command to love one’s NEIGHBOR (rather than just one’s BROTHER), regardless of their “fruit”.

  7. … Exactly! The Author, when being reminded with the Love of Jesus from the Story, repented of the most grievous of sin, Self Righteousness! And was able to love his friends even at the cost of his reputation. Even if it brought the criticism of other who thinks he’s just looking for another opportunity to visit the brothel. Amen.

  8. The topic here is the instances Jesus’ love appeared sinful. The result of which was the recipients of that love turning from sin into a holy life. His religious encounters was them rejecting his love.

  9. Deon, well like you said, the Author was changed. To exclude his transformation from the narative would be to beg the question. While the encounters you mentioned are great testimonies of transformation, don’t forget Jesus encountered the High Priests, Pharisees and Sadducee that DID NOT CHANGE. So it’s fallacious to say every encounter with Jesus results in Change, but fortunately that is not the case in this account.

  10. When Jesus dined with Zacheus he was a changed man. When he visited the woman at the well she was changed. After an encounter with Christ miracles happen. Tell me who was changed in this encounter beside the esteemed writer changing his mind about where he would park the next time he went to a brothel?

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