Thursday, May 17, 2012

Loving Him As Best We Can

While doing my daily reading today, I came across this passage:

One of the Pharisees asked him over for a meal. He went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down at the dinner table. Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known what kind of woman this is who is falling all over him.” (Luke 7:36-39 MSG)

Isn’t that a beautiful picture of worship? But when I read the Pharisee’s words, I realized what he was thinking. He saw the (familiar??) harlot doing a “sensuous” act. Now, I’m not talking about sexuality, but the harlot would have been very versed in that, yes? So, what she did was come to her Savior and love Him as best she could, focusing her humble attention on His feet. Somehow she understood (before that night because her visit was premeditated) that she needed forgiveness. She needed a Savior. And somehow she understood Jesus is the Savior. That even while on earth (before the cross and resurrection) He had the authority, the power, the ability, the generosity, the kindness, the mercy, the grace to forgive sins. And how she (we need) needed that. So, she brought perfume and anointed Him. Now, a person with a different “trade” would have shown their love a different way. (A sculptor, for example, might have fashioned something out of clay.) I don’t believe she touched Jesus in an appropriate way. Jesus wouldn’t have tolerated that. But she came and demonstrated her love for Him, her gratitude, in a way that meant something to her, the best way she could. She offered her heart in a personally meaningful way to her. This was her way of honoring Him.

That’s exactly what God asks of us. Each of us brings Him worship in a different way. Each of us expresses our love for and our gratitude to Him in a different way. Our hearts are to honor Him, yes? All we need to do is bring our sincerity and come love on Him. 

Here’s a fitting verse to this conversation:

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.
(Psalm 51:17 MSG)

He commended her in front of the judgmental Pharisee, defending her. 

 Jesus said to him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

Oh? Tell me.”

Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?”

Simon answered, “I suppose the one who was forgiven the most.”

That’s right,” said Jesus. Then turning to the woman, but speaking to Simon, he said, “Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.”

Then he spoke to her: “I forgive your sins.” (Luke 7:40-48)

Beautiful, isn’t it? He accepted her “form” of love, receiving her affection no matter that it was “sensual” (involving the senses). And because He saw her heart, that she recognized her need for a Savior, her need for forgiveness, He forgave her. And then, He gave her peace:

That set the dinner guests talking behind his back: “Who does he think he is, forgiving sins!”

He ignored them and said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” (Luke 7:49-50)

Beautiful. So, bring Him your offering, whatever it looks like and however you wish to humbly express it. He’s gazing at your heart and will meet you exactly where you are and give you exactly what you need. 

What a Savior.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Wooing Season

It’s a new season. Can you feel it? God is wooing His people close again. I’ve seen similar seasons come around before. The key is to respond, to be “wooable” and draw close to God in this grace-filled hour. There’s a great reward for those who cooperate. (Genesis 15:1)

I love this physical time of year (spring) because of all the beauty and new life coming up. I love gardening and the smell of flowers. The sight of a well-appointed garden blesses me. God created the beauty. It was His idea. Knowing that, I feel Him nearer in those moments.

There’s a saying that we worship God with our actions. Mowing the lawn can be worshiping God if we do it unto Him. I think it’s more than that. Worshiping God—truly connecting with God—is opening your heart to Him and feeling Him draw love out of you even while He refreshes you. It’s abandonment with a sole focus on Him. (not another activity, like lawn mowing, going back to my example) (Perhaps the better way to say it is that our lives are lived in service to Him, but that’s the subject of another post.) Worship is abandonment to God.

Abandoning ourselves is both the call and the response of the wooing season. He draws us. We experience the astounding pleasure of His powerful presence, and we abandon ourselves. And as we abandon ourselves (which is what He’s wanting/calling us to do), the pleasure persists, our hearts open, and the cycle continues.

Best part of this whole thing is no one’s left out. 

God’s wooing you. How will you respond?