Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” – Luke 7:47 ESV
I love this passage from Luke 7:36-50 which was a shock to the religious people of that day. I imagine this reaction was very similar to how many “religious people” today react to a message like the one shared recently by Andrew Green, pastor of Highways and Hedges Ministries in Cookeville, Tennessee entitled:
“PROSTITUTES, DOPE DEALERS, STRIPPERS, MURDERERS, NEEDLE JUNKIES, CRACK HEADS, METH USERS! ETC… GODS GOING TO RAISE UP A ARMY OF THESE FOR HIS GLORY!”
You see, this is where I see the active, alive, abiding, serving church — taking the Good News to the poor, the needy, the afflicted and helping them — not just telling “others” that they had better “measure up” to the standards of the “good Christians” in order to be able to join in Sunday services. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating a life of sin at all, but I’m wondering how many polished and disciplined facades are just precariously built walls barely holding back the religious stench of death where there is no real love for God or for brother or neighbor? Only vanity uncovered yet again in some sparkly new, unfamiliar packaging.
When I see God moving in undeniable ways, it isn’t in the “strong, wise, proud, and religious” — it’s in the weak, the broken, the humble, and the needy. It’s in those who know that they need Him, that they can’t make it without Him, that they are utterly destitute and without any chance of hope if it doesn’t flow down from Him.
If you don’t think that you have sin, then what in the world do you have to be thankful for this Christmas season? Instead of a Savior, do you see a tour guide whom you feel you can best with your own attempts to earn your way?
Or don’t we all have those deep, dark actions, or words, or even thoughts that we would be ashamed if the wold around us really knew the depths of our darkness? Or maybe that’s just me? Maybe you all have not denied God so many times in your life to chase after the world’s relations? Maybe you all have been obedient to God and to parents and have not lied, or stolen, or lusted, or hated, or judged, or gossiped, or cursed, or doubted? I think not.
So I’m glad that this message came in from Luke on a Jumbo Jet. Yes, that’s what they called the popular Boeing 747, a “Jumbo Jet”, because it was big, and it transported large numbers of people to their destination. And this is true of Luke 7:47 if you understand how to get onboard the only path that leads to a destination you actually want. If you’re practicing religion, trying to be good enough out of some obligation to satisfy God’s wrath, you may have missed the whole point of Christ. In fact, yours might be even more shocking a demonstration of His wrath than that in store for the carnal and lawless reprobate.
It concerns me how many will realize too late their own fate, the futile nature of loveless religious traditions and sacrifices, but I know that God knows best.
“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me.” – Hosea 6:6-7 ESV
But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” – Matthew 9:13 NKJV