Some of the teachers of the church never teach inside a church. They’re outsiders. Their classroom has no podium or a Bible. There’s no Ph.D. or M.Div. trailing their name.
They teach their fellow homeless beneath interstate bridges.
They muse about God from the seat of a forklift.
They witness to customers as they fix toilets and unclog drains.
They are secret agents of Jesus, sent into the nooks and crannies of the world to speak of him. Beggars who tell fellow beggars where to find the Bread of Life.
One such teacher was a prostitute who taught two churchmen about the fear of the Lord.
The Virgin in a Whorehouse
The two young men who strolled into Jericho were like country boys walking wide-eyed down the Vegas strip (Joshua 2). They’d seen plenty of rocks and sand and sheep in their life, but not once the glitz and glamour of a city. They were on a mission of espionage, sent by Joshua to spy out any weaknesses in this ancient fortress.
But as it turns out, they harbored a weakness of their own.
They wound up inside Jericho’s whorehouse.
And I doubt they were there to hand out religious tracts.
When city officials discovered these men were spies, they banged on the brothel door. But Rahab, the sex worker, knew a thing or two about being crafty. Hiding her customers beneath stalks of flax on the rooftop, she opened the door and said that the spies had fled the city at sunset. Hurry up and you’ll catch them, she said, shooing the officials away.
Rahab then seized the opportunity to lecture these two men about the fear of the Lord. These guys were the very definition of insiders. Churchgoers. Could recite the Ten Commandments. Belted out hymns on the Sabbath. Their preacher had been none other than Moses himself. Seminary recruiters would have steered these guys into the ministry.
Yet here they were, being instructed in the wonder-working ways of Yahweh by a woman in the sex industry. Reports of what the Lord had done for his people had been the talk of the town in Jericho. How he had dried up the waters of the Red Sea, how he had given them victory over foreign armies, and how he was soon to give them the very land upon which they were now standing.
“The fear of you has fallen upon us,” she told the spies, “and all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you,” (2:9). Then she confessed, “The LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath,” (2:11).
Hear that confession of saving faith? @@Rahab may have been a prostitute in Jericho, but she was secretly a virgin daughter of Yahweh.@@
And she was a teacher. And a witness to the fact that God has friends—and classrooms—in the lowest places of the world.
Gnarly Knots and Twisted Branches
The Lord is always hunkered down in the most unlikely of places. Yes, he stands in pulpits and behind altars. Yes, he gives lectures in Christian universities. But he also uses pipeline welders as witnesses to the cross. Farmers teach us about steadfastness in prayer. He even used this sex worker as a theology instructor.
@@No one is too scandalous, too stained, or too far outside the walls of the church for God to use.@@
As if to drive home this point, God providentially ordered Christ’s family tree to include Rahab. She’s listed in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus. There’s a little bit of that prostitute in our Savior.
In fact, there’s a whole bunch of gnarly knots and twisted branches in Jesus’ family tree.
And thank God there is. That’s how I know I fit right in. As do you. We’re all a bunch of freaks in one way or another. But God loves us despite our moral deformities. He grafts us, ugly and all, into his Son’s beautiful, cleansing, justifying body.
There, taught by the Spirit through the word, we learn from and teach each other. We learn from sweet old grandmas and ex-cons with face tattoos. We learn from hookers and virgins, alcoholics and teetotalers. No one is excluded.
God is no respecter of persons. Or pasts. We all have some wisdom to contribute to the body of believers.
Sometimes all we have to do is take the time to listen.