Mark 2: 1-5
A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralysed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralysed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’
John 8: 3-8
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
Imagine sitting in the house listening to Jesus. Heavy lumps of something start falling down on you from the roof. These houses were one story buildings with steps up the side. The roof was made of interwoven sticks and leaves and then covered with clay which was hardened in the hot sun. It was tough stuff to smash through, big lumps of clay and wood would have been dropping onto the people below. It was messy.
It’s going to be the same our lives. When we start to show dangerous love and reach out to those who Jesus would reach out to, it gets messy.
We have a little boy, Elijah, who’s four years old. When he was around two, I found myself getting really annoyed because everything was always such a mess. I like a tidy house but ours had toys, teddies and raisins thrown everywhere. I like a clean car but our car had bits of snacks, odd socks and raisins everywhere. What is it with raisins!
One day I was getting frustrated about all the mess around me, when I felt the Lord rebuke me. I sensed him say: 'If you could have all the tidiness you want, a clean house and a clean car - but have no Elijah, would you take it?"
The answer was obvious: 'Of course not.'
'Well', I felt God say, 'why don’t you stop complaining about the mess and instead give thanks for it, because the mess is a sign of new life.'
In the same way I’ve discovered that loving people is messy. When you love people and reach into their world and all the stinking stuff in their life, you get your hands dirty with some of it. You take some of it on.
If you want to love the broken, the hurting, the lost, those who Jesus loves – it will be messy. If you want to see lives transformed, it won’t always be easy.
In a church I used to lead, we had a prison ministry to sex offenders and, I can assure you, it was messy. We are working up close with people who had done awful things. Most of them had also had horrific things done to them. These were men who, quite frankly, most people wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. It was messy.
Ministry is messy. Loving others as Jesus would is messy. But whoever said it was supposed to be clean?
The cross was messy, it was bloody and gruesome and painful. Yet, the mess brought forth the greatest miracle humanity could ever experience - forgiveness for sin and reconciliation with God.
If you want to love people like Jesus and reach people for Jesus, prepare for messiness. The miracle is in the mess.