I’m sitting here preparing to teach a class tomorrow for ladies who are a part of a program called “Samaritan Women” through the Fresno Rescue Mission. Samaritan women is a program for women who are coming out of incarceration or drug addiction and are trying to get their lives back on track.
And to me, there is no greater place to start, no better 3 chapters of the bible to teach when talking to women who have messed up, than the Sermon on the Mount.
In Matthew 5-7, Jesus lays out his longest sermon, his most detailed lesson, on what a disciple is and how to inherit the kingdom.
Many of these women in the program have done terrible things in the past (which is how they ended up in jail). And many of these women have had terrible things done to them. So when they first enter this program, much of their heart is unlearning things they’ve been taught all of their life and relearning God and His kind of life.
You can see the struggle to embrace forgiveness. You can see the unbelief in their hearts to hear about a Redeemer who is strong and a Shepherd that is good. About a God who is sovereign, and grace that is offered freely, and an abundant life that is given.
They know their past. They know God has seen them on their best day and on their worst day. And the offer of free salvation seems too good to be true. Until you start showing them the upside down Kingdom of Jesus.
It occurred to me as I was reading through the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus never tells us to start our relationship with Him in perfection.
He tells us it starts in poverty.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3)
He never tells us eternal life starts with our own righteousness, but by seeking Him and His righteousness.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
He doesn’t tell us it starts by keeping the law, He tells us He fulfills the law.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)
It can’t be in keeping the law. Because his law tells us not to murder, and Moses, David, and Paul were all murderers! That’s right! Men who wrote majority of the bible, some of my favorite authors, were murderers. Murderers who inherited the Kingdom.
And I can’t wait to tell them that! If you think what you have done is too far for God to forgive, know that not only does he let murderers into the kingdom, he lets them write the Book ON the kingdom.
These women have not committed murder (though one did stab her husband in the face, and somehow he survived) but they did do things that broke the law. They understand what it’s like to be broken beyond repair. They understand what it’s like to be bound by shame, guilt, and sin.
And I can’t wait to tell them they don’t have to be for one minute longer.
I imagine these women hearing that for the first time. YOU ARE NOT TOO SINFUL TO SAVE. YOUR PAST DOES NOT DICTATE YOUR ETERNAL FUTURE. YOUR ARE VALUABLE AND LOVED BY A HEAVENLY FATHER.
And just as Jesus told his disciples during his sermon that day, you do not have to be “good enough” to inherit the kingdom. You just have to be poor and humble and repentant.
"For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (Psalm 51:16-17)