Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Tag: Father’s heart

Jesus Loves Prostitutes

For most of my adult life there was a wide gulf between prostitutes in the Bible and the ones I saw working on the streets of Nottingham.

Those in my city are often despised because of what they do, or ignored.

But many of the prostitutes I’ve met in the pages of my Bible became women who were honoured and loved by God.

It’s almost like the Father went out of His way to make sure a prostitute (Tamar) featured in His Son’s family tree. Rahab, who presumably worked out of a brothel on the walls of Jericho, demonstrated such faith in God that she is mentioned in the heroes of faith line-up in Hebrews 11.

Jesus didn’t shun them, but welcomed them. He showed unconditional love and acceptance to the broken women working the streets of towns and cities He visited. I love the opening words of Luke 15: ‘…the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Him.’ But the religious people weren’t happy about that, which led Jesus into his three famous parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. Religious people looked down on the prostitutes and outcasts. Jesus valued them.

When God really got hold of my heart in 2013 and I began to have the first inklings of what grace is (it’s all about Jesus, not me; I am loved more than I can imagine simply for who I am and because He wants to love me), an immediate change was the way I saw other people.

I crossed the street to talk to a Big Issue seller – such people had never been on my radar before. I got involved with my church’s food bank and social hub, revelling in chatting with fascinating people I wouldn’t normally have opportunity to rub shoulders with including ex-prisoners, refugees, the homeless, drug addicts.

From there, it was a small step to getting involved in an inter-church charity reaching out to women working in the sex trade.

I love spending time with these amazing women: gutsy, brave, struggling, desperate, broken. So many words can describe them. The Father says of them that HeAshamed loves them like He loves Jesus. His blazing heart of love overflows with compassion for them. He is as crackers about them as He is about me. God is adamant that it was worth Jesus giving up His life for prostitutes, so that He can invite them into His Kingdom and call them daughters.

I’m writing a blog series on prostitutes of the Bible. When I read their stories, I see the faces of the women I meet and am getting to know. There may be several centuries between then and now, but God’s love for broken people will never change.

Celebrate

Day five’s word prompt for blogging through Lent is CELEBRATE.

I’m celebrating my Father’s love. It makes me jump and sing and dance and twirl and shout. I am loved!

His love for me is overwhelming. It’s a Niagara Falls of a relentless outpouring of love. He pursues me to show me His love. It’s important to Him that I grasp it, that I know how precious I am.

He deals with my mess, He guides me, sometimes He disciplines me: He always loves me.

His love is outrageous. It’s never-ending. He’s committed to me.

I didn’t always see the Father this way. I used to think He was angry and didn’t like me very much, that I had to strive to please Him. How wrong I was!

John BentonOne of the ways the Father revealed to me who He is and what He’s really like was through my friend John. He and his wife Elizabeth announced a couple of years ago that they had decided to ‘adopt’ Adi and me. I laughed and went with it.

I nicknamed him ‘Father John’, partly because of his endearing habit of placing a hand on my head and with a chuckle saying, ‘Bless you my child.’

He brings us back sticks of rock from Skegness and is always ready with big squidgy hugs. Adi and I are welcome at their house (Elizabeth’s Sunday dinners are delicious). They have even installed a bed in their spare room so that I don’t need to drive home late at night when I visit.

Gradually, ‘Father John’ has given way to the more familiar ‘Daddy John’.

The Father has used our friendship with John (and Elizabeth) to show me the Father’s heart. The more I grasp the Father’s deep, unconditional, never-ending love, the more I love the God who pursues me relentlessly to reveal more of Himself. I love Him because He first loved me and showed me what love is.

Love looks like the Father’s beloved Son dying on the cross to take all my rubbish, rebellion and mess on Himself so that He could give me His rightness with God and bring me into His family.

Father God has become Daddy God, and so today I’m celebrating His awesome love for me.

 

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