Our Response to Forgiveness.
My wife and I have the privilege to be a part of the worship team at our local church. It’s really special to me because it allows my wife and I to listen to music together that we might think would translate well into our “worship culture” at church. We have lots of fun finding and discussing songs and even working on harmonies together. It is such a blessing to us.
The other day she asked me a question that caused me to think beyond the “music” and into my intentions of certain lyrics. She asked “Is it hard for dudes to sing things like ‘I run into your arms’ or ‘I find shelter in your arms’?”. To be honest it has never felt abnormal to sing those types of lyrics, but I had to really dissect “the why” because I definitely understood why it would feel weird. Like most men, I tend to have the typical “male bravado” that most men in our culture do, having these types of thoughts: “I don’t need to be rescued” or “I would never find shelter in someone’s arms, they would find shelter in mine!” I mean, those are normal lines of thinking in our culture today.
After exploring these thoughts, I confirmed my answers in my head and it will change my response when singing to my God. I thought immediately about this passage:
Lukes 7:36-50 (ESV)
36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”
41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
I love how Jesus uses the idea of being in debt to explain this woman’s response; most of us understand debt. Jesus does not differentiate that she is a woman when talking to these men with all their self righteous bravado, he addresses the response as appropriate for all!
I think of this story in our terms today. If I was in swallowing debt and someone came into my life and laid down 10 million dollars, I am confident that my response would be one of “running into that person’s arms” or dare I say “a sloppy wet kiss” (listen to the song “How He Loves”). At that point, there is no bravado, only response.
Let’s dissect that for a minute. First, I would have to understand the weight of my debt. The crushing everyday feeling of debt can cause depression, family strife and just a general uncertainty in much of life. When it is your story, you definitely understand the weight of it, so if someone came along and relieved you of that debt and brought you into a “new life”… hugging, embracing, even kisses would be understandable, right? We certainly never judge the response of Publisher’s Clearing House winners when they receive that giant check; we might even smile a bit and picture our own response if that were us receiving it.
If Christ has done this for us in a way that is so much deeper, wider and greater than the relief of monetary debt, then how come we stand stoic in our bravado? Don’t get me wrong, I am not asking everyone to turn immediately into hand raising, alter falling, tear shedding worshipers. I am simply asking us to consider the depths of our forgiveness. Much like the woman in the passage above, when we realize the depths of our sin and the richness of our forgiveness in Christ, our response will follow… and it will probably look a lot like the woman with the alabaster flask.