Okay, here’s the quotes of the week:
“Jesus says the great lovers are those who have come face-to-face with their own great brokenness and have been undone by great grace.”
This comes from the book Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them. The particular chapter shares the story of when Jesus visited the Rabbi Simon’s house and Mary washed his feet with her hair and tears. Jesus told the story of two debtors whose debts had been forgiven and asks Simon who loved move, the one who had a big debt forgiven or who had a little debt forgiven. Simon responds by telling Jesus the one with the bigger debt.
And then Ortberg writes this, “It is worth noting what Jesus is not saying in this parable. He is not saying, ‘Simon, you are a righteous man. You have hardly sinned at all. You don’t need much grace.’ The difficulty is, Simon perceives himself to have little sin. That is what makes it so hard for him to be overwhelmed by grace. He really does think God is getting a pretty good deal in him. He thinks of himself as a small debtor. He looks at large debt people and wonders why they can’t be more righteous, like him.”
I fear this is the trap too many of us fall into as Christians – we don’t have an adequate grasp of our own fallenness. Worse yet, we then project a hollier-than-thou attitude towards others – be they Christians or non-Christians. Over the past two weeks I’ve read articles and blogs by people who set up all sorts of rules and regulations for being a Christian; rules and regulations that are no where to be found in scripture.
One pastor I listen to talks about what he calls the red-light and green-light principals (to be fair, he applies it to worship, but I think it can be broadened to not only include worship but many areas of Christian life). In short, the red-light principal is one that says, “Unless the Bible specifically allows for something, it is wrong to do.” The green-light principal, however, says, “Unless the Bible specifically condemns something, it is okay to do it.” (okay, this is a watered down version, but you get the point; allowance is made for understanding principals in scripture as well as areas of conscience.)
The point is, Simon here lived by a red-light philosophy (not in a red-light district…). But Jesus didn’t. He was willing to show grace to a woman who needed it and who was asking for it. Here was a woman who was changing her ways and looking for love.
She didn’t find it in the religious leaders of the day, but she did find it in Jesus. Ironically, this conversation happened just before Jesus last week on earth…
Why is it that those of us who live because of grace are often the ones least willing to give it?