Pentecost 16, Thursday, Year B

Inspired by Joshua 2:1-14

“Then Joshua son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, ‘Go, view the land, especially Jericho.’ So they went, and entered the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab, and spent the night there. The king of Jericho was told, ‘Some Israelites have come here tonight to search out the land.’ Then the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab, ‘Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come only to search out the whole land.’ But the woman took the two men and hid them. Then she said, ‘True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they came from. And when it was time to close the gate at dark, the men went out. Where the men went I do not know. Pursue them quickly, for you can overtake them.’” Joshua 2:1-5 (NRSV)

As complicated as our lives can be, we often find it easier to categorize things according to whether we find them to be good or bad, desirable or undesirable, righteous or evil. Sometimes it seems pretty obvious which category a person or behavior should go into; sometimes it’s a little more difficult. But we categorize them nonetheless, and then we respond to them based on our preconceived judgment.

The people of God are righteous. Prostitutes are bad. Lying is evil. These statements seem obvious. Yet the people of God in this text chose to spend the night at the house of a prostitute, a place godly people are expected to avoid and condemn. Rahab the prostitute is the hero of this story, hiding the Israelite spies from her own king and recognizing that God was with them. She lied to the authorities in order to protect God’s people and ensure the success of their mission. Our convenient categorization has failed us.

God is not restrained by our categories. God is not limited by our judgments. God can and does work through all people in the world, regardless of what the world thinks of them, bringing about his kingdom, and extending his mercy and his grace to all.

Let us pray. God of action, you created the world and all those in it. Help us to look past our own judgments and prejudices, that we might recognize your startling work in the world. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.