by Kristin Berkey-Abbott
The reading for Sunday, October 11, 2015:
Joshua 2: 1-23
In the reading for Sunday, we get the story of faithful Rahab, who protects the Israelite spies from the townspeople planning to kill them and assists their escape from the town. She bargains for protection for her family during the coming invasion, and she is promised what she wants if she follows instructions.
Traditionally her story is told as one that demonstrates faithfulness and reward for that faithfulness. I worry about that interpretation and how we might see it if we feel we are not being rewarded. Will we criticize ourselves for not being faithful enough? I hope not.
I have Christian martyrs on the brain as I read the story of Rahab. I think of all the people who sheltered Jews during the time of the Holocaust--many people survived because of those efforts, but let us not forget those who were killed because of their faithfulness.
I also see this as a story of how God will use the outcast of society to transform that society. Think about Rahab, who was a prostitute--not only a woman, but the lowest kind of woman in patriarchal society. Yet without her assistance, the Israelite spies would have been killed. She not only shelters them, but she tells them how to survive and escape. She knows the land, in a way that people in a higher rung of society might not.
What motivates some of us to provide assistance and some of us to turn away? It's hard to know, but of one thing we can be certain: God can use any one of us. We may assume that since we don't have money or power or importance, that we are not essential--our culture beams that message to us every day. Watch network TV and see for yourself.
But the Bible shows us story after story of the most unlikely people turned into agents of God's vision for creation. If a prostitute like Rahab has a starring role, there is room for all of us.