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Monday, December 06, 2004

Insignificance Illuminated

Yesterday, the lead pastor of my church preached a powerful message. He read from Matthew chapter 1, the first six verses. If you look it up, you will see that these few verses are some of the most "boring" sections of the entire Bible. But as soon as he read it, I was anticipating a treat. You see in this small passage there was a repetition that I, for one, had missed in my previous readings.

In verses 3, 5 and 6, there was the repeated phrase: "whose mother was..." Four women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. Four women with questionable histories. A rejected deceitful black widow, a prostitute of ill-repute, a impoverished destituted widow and a scandalous adulteress. Yet, each of them memorialized in the annals of the Messiah's lineage. Each of them needed God's mercy desperately. They needed vindication and God's justice to intervene in their lives.

As I listened to my pastor expound on the each of their women,tears streaked down my cheeks. For I saw this passage showing God's inscrutable grace and mercy. He took the insignifant, the undesirable, the unpleasant, even the repugnant, and He vindicates them, lifts them up, satisfies them and heals them of their pain, void, and oppression. Each of these women had a messed-up life, and complicated histories. Each, by human standards, were entangled in some messy, unpleasant stuff. The kind of stuff upon which the pack of media wolves would relish on devouring and feasting. We would normally not like to identify ourselves with such unsavory lives. Yet, God saw fit to include each of these women in the record of the ancestry of the Messiah, a practice that is surprising indeed, for in those days, ancestry lists do not normally include women.

It speaks volumes on the design of God the Father, the greatness of His love and the inclusiveness of His grace. Further it underscores that God wants to transform our lives. No matter what you have gone through, no matter what kind of messiness you have got yourself entangled in, no matter how deep in the mud you have sunk, God can and will touch us where we are, to transform, uplift and vindicate. That is the kind of power of His transforming love.