Is your life always open to the flow of the presence of God? Does Jesus always have an open invitation? This is what it means to be part of the revealing of the new creation in Christ. This is what it takes to not miss the unprecedented move of God. (inspired by Revelation 3:20)
There is a story I have been pulled back into repeatedly in my life. It’s a story about a woman who committed a beautifully inappropriate act because she loved Jesus too much. At least that was the opinion of everyone who was there that day. Everyone except Jesus.
Do you ever wonder what it looks like to “love” God? You may have heard that the most important call or command in all of life is to love God and to love your neighbour as yourself. But, giving love or showing love can be vague and confusing sometimes. How can you know when your heart is in the right place in your claim to be someone who loves Jesus?
This woman who stirred up anger from the haters & warm acceptance from Jesus for her awkward act is a great example of how it’s done!
Here is her story:
Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.”
While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over. Mark 14:1-11
There is something about her story that pulls me in. Her love for Jesus created a path and an open door into His affection. (click to tweet) She did a beautiful thing “to” Jesus. When you know that what you are doing means something wonderful to Jesus, it changes you. (click to tweet)
On that day she packed up her most valuable possession (worth a year’s salary) and was determined to find Jesus. And find him she did! Making a scene, she broke open this alabaster (clay like) jar of costly perfume made of burial spices and proceeded to anoint Jesus with it… the WHOLE jar! In one amazing provoking act she captured a picture of the sacrifice Jesus would make within the next week. His blood would be poured out for them and all of us. Jesus would explain that to his disciples as they gathered for the passover feast with bread and wine.
But she also painted a powerful picture of what it looks like to follow Jesus and love him in our everyday lives. In the teachings of the Bible we learn that as Christians we carry in us the treasure of Christ’s presence. Our bodies are referred to as jars of clay. We are fragile and easily broken. But we don’t need to be discouraged or to beat ourselves up over our condition. It is actually for the best.
As very human, well meaning but broken people we are filled and surrounded by the presence of God through faith in Jesus. This is so that the aroma we give off to our world is awesome (surpassingly great) and all can see that it comes from God not from us.
Back to our story… Our “inappropriate” hero who couldn’t help herself in love received the smile and deep affection of Jesus for her “over the top” sacrifice. He defended her, put the rest of the dinner party in their place and then announced the most incredible thing.
Jesus leaked it to the press… actually held a “press conference” and announced that wherever His story was told she would be spoken of. Her story was now officially part of His. The same gift Jesus gratefully received was ridiculed by the religious crowd when they asked, “Why this ‘waste’ of perfume?”
If you are stirred up with desire to love Jesus more deeply in radical ways, you are in great company! Church at it’s best is a passionate community who “waste” their most valuable treasure on Jesus. (click to tweet)
Why did this unnamed woman waste her valuable perfume on Jesus instead of doing something “practical” with it? Because doing something beautiful to Jesus was worth everything.
What can you learn from our inappropriate hero?
1. Start each day by asking God to fill you with His love.
You can start each day with this powerfully simple prayer based on John 17:26: “O Father please do a work of the Holy Spirit in my life so that I will love Jesus with the love you have for him. Thank you that you are in me and I am in your family.” – Amen
2. Pour yourself out in service as a gift back to God.
Look for opportunities in your day to serve ALL people (including difficult people) with the love of Jesus. In this way you will be pouring yourself out in love for God. 1 John 3:16 says it so well, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” Sacrificially loving others in Jesus Name reaches the heart of God! (click to tweet)
3. Trust God with your name & your honour.
If others don’t understand and the haters start hating, don’t be surprised. But be wise and don’t allow yourself to get bitter or resentful so that you lash back. Instead let it teach you to trust God to defend your honour. Just like Jesus did in the case of our hero on her day he will include you in His story today and forever.
Live THIS day!
If this has been helpful to you, please share it with someone else who could use the encouragement. Also, I would love to have you leave a comment below. Always love hearing from you.
If you have embraced faith in Jesus Christ, you are becoming a brand new “you” 2 Cor 5:17 That is awesome & beautiful! But, there are times when it feels complicated and even threatening as you engage every day in your “same old same old” life.
The powerful work that God is accomplishing in and around us through the living presence of the risen Jesus is a beautiful mixture of heaven and the everyday life we have always known.
In Philippians 3:18-21, Paul writes about how people (most people) “think only about life here on this earth” (v.19). But as Jesus’ family, we are “citizens of heaven where… Jesus… lives” (v.20). That is powerful! We belong to an unseen but present reality called “heaven” and yet we live here in the seen world.
18 For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes,that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ.19 They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. 20 But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control. Philippians 3:18-21
The great news is that “heaven” is taking over in Jesus name and for His glory. You and I and all of your friends get to be part of this awesome restoring creative work of God by allowing Jesus to be God of our lives!
So, don’t lose heart if it gets rough.. you are from the right place!
These words from James 1 from “The Message” grabbed me and shook me this morning; “If you don’t know what you are doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it…” And there is more. I encourage you to read the whole chapter and listen for the Holy Spirit speaking to you. I know it seems completely counterintuitive, but God actually loves to hear us admit that we don’t know what to do. When we are willing to throw ourselves on him and cry out that the only thing we really know to do is to trust him and depend on his agenda, we are actually getting somewhere.
A Jesus follower is someone who operates from a place of wisdom, honesty and gritty surrender to our real situation… We are completely lost unless we depend on the Father every moment of every day. Check your heart and ask yourself whether or not you actually believe God loves to help you. He does! And there is no moment like this one right now to cry out to Him for wisdom!