Monday, July 11, 2016

Forgiveness Drives Devotion

Have you ever felt like you are drying up?  You're reading your bible, praying, in fellowship, engaged at church, and yet you struggle to make it through?

If you're like me, you've had seasons where that has lasted a long time, and moments where it's been merely half a day.  But neither are fun.  And it's hard in those moments to love Jesus and be faithful.  It's in these moments where I'd rather not follow Jesus, give in to whatever my passions are telling me, and blame it on my tiredness or dryness.  

What's worse?  It comes off going to two weeks of "Focus," DiscipleMakers week-long retreat, and of course, we left the week wanting to change the world for Christ!  Merely days later it's hard to even get out of bed and skim a few pages and form a few words.  Save the World?  Hah!  

We dream and imagine being part of God's plan and yet how often after we gain a boost of clarity from retreats, conferences, and spiritual highs, that we crash back down to reality?  The fire inside dried up.  My desire to be more generous is sucked away by my greed.  My desire to reach neighbors for Christ is sucked away by my want of comfort.  

Thank God I don't have to be mastered by my emotions.  

As I've planted in God's Word (even when it's been hard), one of the things I was struck by was a passage in Luke 7, where a woman "of the city" (that's code for prostitute) encounters Jesus.  She goes into a religious leader's house, which would have super scandalous.  She weeps over Jesus' feet and kisses them (That's weird... and gross).  And she breaks an alabaster flask, filled with her ointment (which would have meant everything to her, due to her line of work), and anoints Jesus' feet with it.  

Why?  

The religious leader scoffs at this.  Jesus, however, does not.  He speaks.  And this is what he says: 

"Do you see this woman? I entered your (religious leader's) house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.  Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little." (Luke 7:44b-47)

The religious leader does nothing, because he does not see his need for forgiveness.  The woman, however, is deeply moved because she knows her both her need, and the one who fulfills that need.  Her reputation is awful, her line of work is shameful, and she herself is most likely in a very broken state.  She's been used by men.  And here is a man who welcomes her not for her body, but because He chooses to love her.  And she gives up everything.  Presumably, she even gives up her occupation because the ointment she would have used to make herself more attractive has been poured out on a man who has no intention of sleeping with her.   

She realizes how much she has been forgiven.  And in turn, she responds with deep devotion.  

When you are in a dry season, do you run back to the cross to remember your need for forgiveness?  Might that be why you are dry in the first place?  Maybe, like me, as we grow we revert to thinking like the religious leader.  We start to get our acts together, our reputation grows a bit, we do more good deeds.  But who got us to that point?  

Jesus did.  He rescued us from eternal hell and shame, and brought us to Himself.  We must remember how much we have been forgiven, often, if our devotion to Christ is to grow.  

Have you looked recently at the depths of your sin that Jesus has forgiven?

Have you looked freshly upon the Cross of Christ?