Jesus' greatest priority is receiving the good faith of flawed people. In Matthew 15.21-28 Jesus is pursuing his mission to preach the Gospel in order that Israel might become a global church, but he is stopped in his tracks when a flawed woman expresses flawless faith. The woman, after continuing to pursue Jesus into a house, throws herself at Jesus’ feet, pleading for her daughter's healing; being the good mother. Jesus says that he must feed the children of Israel first, they must become the Church, so that the whole world can be saved. The master can do both, she says in response; even the crumbs from his table can bring life. This is where the woman’s goodness is revealed. She calls him 'master.' This is her morality - the recognition that Jesus is King, and to eat from His table is her greatest need.
She is early to the party - Jesus' ministry to the whole world is yet to come - but she knows the party’s happening. She believes what has been said about Jesus. She has heard about Jesus and the good news about him, and about his kingdom and the global nature of his power and his goodness, so she pursues him. For us, too, this is the root of goodness: not our ability to hold things together enough to be less flawed than our neighbor, that is, the small, fake, incremental goodness of moralism. No. Here Jesus offers a real goodness that makes us more than moral. It makes us well.
Looking to Jesus is the only prerequisite for belonging to Jesus. It has always been this way, that we have access to the Father through needy faith in the Son. One can believe now, today, this instant, despite unfaith yesterday. God can hear you on a Sunday morning no matter your Saturday night. No one else lives that way, so full of grace! Yet this is the nature of the Gospel, that God receives faith from the far off. The global church is proof of that fact; far off people with far off morality, with flawed lives, with nothing in common but our common experience of our need for Him.
Of course this woman is not the last desperate, far off faith, that Jesus receives. We like to say that Jesus was the only righteous man to die on the Cross, but that isn't exactly true. On the Cross Jesus receives the far off faith of a thief, more pathetic than any of us by miles, but he expresses flawless faith because he looks to Jesus. And he is received by Jesus. Because of Jesus there was not merely one good man crucified on Good Friday, but two. And because of Jesus you can be good too, and beloved, and safe.
May we be known for that kind of morality, that kind of Goodness. And may our city find, in New City, a church that loves to receive flawed people, and turn them toward the Christ, who is full of goodness, grace and mercy.