Wednesday, January 06, 2016

A typical Christian: an unnamed, patronised, outcast woman, face tear-stained, hair matted with perfume and dirt, overflowing with love to her Saviour

"My spiritual life has been so dull, dry."
Why didn't you say something?
Why didn't you ask for help?
"I didn't realise until now."
It gets worse! Why didn't I see it before? I'm spiritually dry and cold to the horror of that.

And yet what a moment to be caught in.
What an opportunity for grace.

Learn from two people who met Jesus. A man and a woman, she doesn't speak words but her actions are loud and clear to those who have ears to hear... on the face of it a good man and a bad woman, but more a picture of vibrant faith and spiritual dullness of heart...

He - invites Jesus to his house.
She - seeks Jesus out.
Both want to be with Jesus.

He - is disappointed in Jesus and offended at her. How could the Saviour of the World be there?
She - is received by Jesus.
Noticably, he isn't at all astounded that Jesus would be with him.

Jesus - reads his heart and sets up a senario.
Two people forgiven debts they couldn't repay.
One 500, the other 50.
Who loves most after that?

He - knows the answer.
She - is enacting the answer. She is his teacher if he'll listen.

He - didn't...didn't... didn't... an utter failure of hospitality in his own home.
She - But she... But she... But she... an example of hospitality in the house of another.

Jesus - those forgiven much, and she has much to be forgiven, love much.
Those who don't know much forgiveness, don't have much love.
A stinging rebuke to Simon, if he'll hear it.

She - her faith saves her, she believes the gospel, sees her sin and is forgiven. Go in peace.
He - sees himself as good, better than others, he is insensitive to his sins which are many, his tolerance for sin is high, his view of himself is overrated, his repentance is lacking.

But in this moment, in the presence of Jesus he can put that behind him... if he can cultivate sensitivity to sin he can find immense forgiveness. Not a stereotypical dwelling in sin, but sensitivity, intolerance, sorrow... paired with receiving Christ.

Who can forgive sins? This kind of God, this Jesus who loves the company of sinners like her and isn't ashamed to spend time with sinners like him.
There's more sin in him than he realises. 
There's more love in the Christ than there is sin in him.
The Lord is a God more good than we dare imagine. 
This is the forgiving God.
This is the atoning God.
This is the sinner loving God.

Our love can show in many ways - it doesn't always look like a tear-stained face and hair matted with dirt and perfume. Though it did that day.

There are extravagant expressions - I was drawn to the worship of my first church as a believer, caught in the midst of the Toronto Blessing, for it's genuine raw reflexive response to Jesus... but intense worship meetings are just one way. Sin can be seen and love received in the study, in worship, in prayer, in company, alone, in busyness, in empty landscapes.

It's a question of the heart. The Christian faith rests on an objective outside of me act of atonement for sin. And the Christian faith is experienced in a sensitivity to sin and the reception of the gift of atoning love.

When you know you're sinful - come to Jesus and express love to the one who first loved you.
And when you don't know you're sinful - come to Jesus and ask him to tune your heart both to see yourself as you really are, and so to lead you don't the painful path of repentance to himself.

Here is the antidote to grave sinners and happy clappys, common varieties of evangelicals. We must know our sin but there is no Christianity without application of the atonement to our knowledge of sin... without forgiveness receive and the happy news of the Saviour whose love reaches even me.

She went to Jesus. She gave her heart. Because she was loved by Jesus.

Jesus - You are always welcome.

IMAGE: Creative Commons - BeanieBee

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