1 August 2012

The Profane’ity of Jesus

Posted in God's love, messy grace at 1:18 am by Niles Comer

I have always liked the word Profane. And because I like that word, here is some etymology for you. In the late 14th century, the word profane meant “to desecrate” and this coming from the word “profanus” as in ‘unholy.’ But the word “profanes” comes from “Pro Fano” or “not admitted to the temple.” But what the word profane really means in the original meaning (from hundreds of years ago) is “out in front of, or outside of, the temple.” By the late 15th century, the word profane had to do with being “secular” or “un-ecclesiastical” and it had become a negative term rather than a descriptive term.

Here’s one for you: Jesus is profane. His ‘Papa’ is profane as well. Let explain before the stones start flying: Jesus is profane in that he was “outside of the temple” for the majority of his time on planet earth. All one has to do is a quick scan of the Gospels to see this to be true: the majority of the stories and ministry took place outside the temple.

In truth, most of what Jesus did was profane, or unholy, according to the religious people of his day. He touched lepers and we have no record that he followed purification laws after touching them (rendering him ‘unclean’). He spoke with and hung out with woman and he had female followers. He forgave a prostitute caught in the act. He spoke with a Samaritan woman not only ‘profaning’ himself by speaking to her but adding insult to injury, she was from a despised mixed race. And then there is the parable of the Prodigal Son, the one most used to speak to Abba’s love and forgiveness. Well, the story was offensive to Jews – asking for your inheritance before your father died! And then upon getting it (profane) and then spending it on sex, drugs, and rock and roll; then having to take a job as a pig feeder! Do you know what pigs were to Hebrews of his day: filthy, dirty untouchable animals! But Jesus threw that into the story for dramatic effect…just to be profane.

I have had far too many experiences with modern day Jesus followers who have absolutely no earthly idea just how offensive Jesus was when he walked the earth. He did not come on a white horse, as a fierce warrior-king messiah ready to liberate his people from the Roman Occupation. He did not come with pomp and circumstance, no Facebook or Twitter account, no multi-media slide show, and no promotion of his latest book. He came from Nazareth (which was no Jerusalem or Rome), was unmarried throughout his life (not normal if you in fact were normal), was born of a poor teenage virgin (hello!) and after three years all the popularity contests ended with him dying on a cross with all the ‘groupies’ mocking him on a cross (the modern-day electric chair).

Jesus of Nazareth came and preached good news to the poor, chose 12 ragamuffin men to spend time with him so they could “get” the Message and then in turn go out and change the world. One of them betrayed him, even unto death; the one who was told that he was the Rock upon which the Church would be built denied him three times just hours after proclaiming loyalty unto death and the rest of them scattered at the Messiah’s greatest hour of need.


Jesus was Profane and yet in modern day, so many Jesus followers are more worried about cultural relevance than righteousness, true righteousness which has to do with “being in right relation to” another (God, the human family and the earth). Jesus was outside the temple: he went to the people; he went to the ones who were the most despised, the most rejected, the poorest of the poor, the dirtiest of the dirty, the most broken among us.

Jesus did not send out flashy tweets or flyers about our grand church programs that the ‘sinners’ and unchurched should come to. Messiah went to the people but modern day Jesus followers have fallen into passivity – a “just build it and they will come” mentality. We have ‘built’ our modern day Temples expecting the hurting and broken to run to us, when in truth the very people Jesus is calling us to take Abba’s love to run like hell to get away from most of us. Heck, I know I rarely feel at home around other believers, smug in the rightness of their ways, hanging in the holy huddle surrounded by the frozen chosen.

Ask yourself: would some toothless hillbilly, active drug addict, or a prostitute dressed for a night of work be welcomed into our fellowship? If the answer is no, then we have no concept of “profane Love.”  It used to be that it was a big deal to have a tattooed person in your church, and 26 years ago when I got my first of my 20 plus tattoos, I got all sorts of looks and quotes from Leviticus. But now we are a Hip Generation, filled with shaved heads, piercings and tats. So, if freaks like me can be welcomed then can we trust the Spirit to open our hearts and fellowships to the truly broken, the fringe of society, and those at the margins?

And Jesus was not at all about programs. Trust me, if Jesus had been about ‘programs,’ I promise you I would have studied his ‘program’ in business school as the “Great Failure.” But the ‘profane’ity’ of Jesus was disturbing to the status quo of his day and today his followers should be just as disturbing. Alas, I fear we are more disturbing for our arrogance and judgment than for our bold love of the hard-core sinners. And it is sad and breaks my heart because Abba’s love poured out into us should give us such trust in him, that we would not care about the looks, stares, and gossip that would surely follow us if we were to love with that kind of love (a love Jesus said would show the world we were his).

My hunger, my desire, my prayer is that we start becoming as profane as Jesus, we will never be relevant or any help to the bodies and souls of a world where over 1 Billion people live off less than $2 per day, where 1 in 7 Americans live in food insecurity, and where homelessness is rising and wounded warriors commit suicide at a rate of 1 per day.

My heart tells me Jesus followers are in need of revival: one where an ever-deepening experience of Abba’s love leads us to forgiveness and reconciliation (within the Church) and then to lives living his profane love away from our temples, out in the world.

We need Abba’ profane love, a love that forgives murderers, adulterers, drug addicts, alcoholics, wife beaters, bully’s, and even embraces in love the LGBT community. We need Abba’s love poured out into our hearts to forgive our own brothers and sisters for the pompous asinine smugness we show towards each other: that Love that breaks the bondage of our ‘rudeness of rightness’ and brings us to our knees in gratitude, in mercy, in compassion and in justice to each other and to the broken and forgotten.

I am learning and I feel we all need to learn that we cannot keep what we do not own and we cannot give away that which we do not have. Personally, I know I need a deeper experience of Abba’s all-encompassing love. I need to taste and see Abba’s love, goodness, and forgiveness or else I am a shipwreck on rough waters.

Am I profane? Are you profane?

If not, then let us pray that God’s profane love and the profane’ity of Jesus fills and moves us out of our temples into a life of complete surrender.

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