Forgiven the Greatest

I first got interested in blogging back in 2007 as a sort of outlet for getting things off my chest. I like to write, I like poking fun at things and I thought blogging would be a great venue for expressing myself. Early on I posted an article that at the time was really nothing more than me venting my frustration with the Christian music industry. It was entitled “Love Songs to Jesus”. It’s not the most commented post I’ve ever written, but it’s one in which, three years after the fact, I’m still receiving vehement responses. Admittedly, it was written during a time in my life when I was considerably more cynical (and probably much less gracious) than I should have been. To be honest it isn’t even my best work. It was written hastily and was loaded with typos. In fact as recent as last April I got blasted by a would be commenter over the number of mistakes. It was suggested, “If you want to find people who need to work on their skills, start with your own writing.” Touché. Oh and thanks for the spell check on a then two-year-old post.

The gist of my post was centered on the trend in contemporary Christian music toward what can be described as singing “love songs” to Jesus. In it I asked if anyone could please show me the biblical precedent for worshiping the Lord with superficial, touchy-feely love songs. “Touch me…hold me…love me…hold me in your warm embrace…” that sort of thing. Are there any examples of this being done anywhere in scripture?

Just this week I got two more responses to this post, one in agreement and one that was critical. The critical commenter named Linda raised an interesting example from scripture that in all honesty I hadn’t really considered, which got me thinking; maybe it’s time we revisit this subject. So I’ve chosen to respond to Linda in the body of this post.

Linda wrote:

“C’mon!! Do you remember how Christ responded to the lady that poured perfume on him and washed his feet with her tears and hair? Her HAIR! Do you not believe that was “mushy” love for him? That act offended his apostles, but Jesus said to leave her alone. Now consider this: Jesus was a man. The word says that he was tempted in every way that we are. Do you suppose that he was ‘enjoying’ that? Sure he was, but he never allowed himself to sin. How many times does the word tell us that we are the bride of Christ? He is returning to take us to a home that he’s prepared for us! How romantic is that? There is nothing wrong with focusing your whole-heart love on a man that gave up his life for you.”

Here’s my response:

Linda,

Great example from scripture, although I’m having some trouble with some of your conclusions, not the least of which is the idea that a) this was somehow an expression of “mushy” love. I think if you’ll go back and reread the context of Luke 7:36-50 you’ll see that there was much, much more to it than that. And b) Jesus was somehow “enjoying” this expression. Again, if you’ll reexamine the text you’ll find Jesus response as being one of compassion, not enjoyment.

Keep in mind too that Jesus was dining at the home of a Pharisee, a man who was a declared enemy of Jesus. This man would have liked nothing better than to find something he could use against Jesus. But notice his reaction to the woman washing Jesus’ feet. He didn’t say, “Hey everybody, look. Here’s a man who enjoys familiarity with a prostitute.” What he said was, “If this guy were a real prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him.” Why? Because there was nothing in Jesus that would lead even His enemies to believe there was any kind of enjoyment in Him at being touched by a sinful woman. So I reject the notion straight away that Jesus was in any way enjoying this action, at least not in the sense you suggest.

Linda, the point I was originally trying to make, and three years in retrospect maybe I haven’t done such a good job of making it, is that I am greatly concerned about the shallowness of our worship, because to me it is an indicator of the shallowness of the average Christian. I am NOT saying worship cannot be emotional. If it’s from the heart it most certainly will touch an emotional chord. But my emotions ought to be the caboose, not the engine driving the train. Worship is a reflection of the heart. If my relationship with Jesus Christ is shallow then my worship will be shallow. If my relationship runs deep, then my worship will reflect the depth of my love for Him.

Your example of the woman who worshiped Jesus by washing and kissing His feet and by drying them with her hair is a great example of that. Go back and read what Jesus had to say to Simon the Pharisee. Jesus used the example of two men who owed debts they couldn’t pay; one man owed a lot of money and one man owed a little. Both men had their debts forgiven by the moneylender. Jesus asked Simon, “Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I would imagine that the one who is forgiven the greatest loves the most.”

Then Jesus drives home His point. In those days it was customary for the host to enable his guests to wash the dust off their feet after coming inside. Jesus said to Simon, “When I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but this woman has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.” In those days it was also customary to greet a guest with a kiss. Jesus said to Simon, “You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.” In those days it was customary to provide a guest with oil for his head. Jesus said to Simon, “You didn’t anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.”

Do you see the point Jesus is making here? For someone who was raised in a Christian home, been a Christian all their life, and who doesn’t have a life of sin to look back on, their level of gratitude for forgiveness is a little. But for somebody who’s lived a sorted, wicked past and has been rescued and transformed in Christ, their level of love and gratitude is at a whole different level. Jesus says, “Look, you just saw love like you’ve never seen it before.”

Nobody did things like that. It was absolutely unheard of. What would make somebody so loving? What would make somebody so lavish, so grateful? This is almost over the top. This is almost bizarre. Weeping all over somebody, wiping their feet with their hair, holding on and never letting go. Why is so much love being poured out? Jesus simple answer is, “Because somebody who has been forgiven much, loves much and this woman whose sins were many has been forgiven; for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little, only loves little.”

And Linda, that’s exactly my point. Now I’m not saying you have to have a sorted past in order to really love Jesus. But if we really love the Lord like we say we do, we oughta go far deeper in our worship than mere emotionalism and shallow expressions of love. It oughta be demonstrated in our willingness to serve Him and expressed in our desire to honor Him. That’s how the sinful woman expressed her gratefulness, her adoration, her worship if you will. And we should too.

12 thoughts on “Forgiven the Greatest

  1. Pretty good analysis, there. I don’t question the motives of people who sing write and sing such songs, but I remember only the title of an article written (Christianity Today?) many years ago. The title was, “Let’s NOT Just Praise the Lord”. And for goodness’ sake, let’s do more than sing to Jesus like he’s our girlfriend. I cringe…absolutely CRINGE, I tell you…when I hear that song, “I Will Arise and Go to Jesus”, when it says, “and in the arms of my dear Savior, oh there are 10,000 charms”. What the heck does THAT mean????

  2. In all seriousness, I think the “gushy love songs” have their place. Just like we can be all mushy gushy with our spouses or children… However, I think what you are getting to Don, is that those gushy emotions shouldn’t be the focus of our relationship or worship. If that focus is all that we had with our spouses or children, the relationships would wither. There needs to be substance within our relationship and our worship.

  3. Actually, Jason, my original question was, where is the biblical precedent for such touchy-feely love songs in worship? I have yet to find any or hear from anyone who can give me a reasonable example, though there have certainly been plenty of people willing to express there personal opinions or who prefer to simply criticize the question. My point is that shallow worship generally comes from shallow Christians and, unfortunately, that concept seems to rub some people the wrong way.

  4. And since I really need something to keep me occupied right now, I decided I might as well go back into second place.

  5. I have looked to and I have yet to find anything in scripture that says our emotions should lead our worship. Another point that I found interesting is that you mention “cookie cutter pop star” and I too agree that the Christian media has been soaked in this trend of “love songs” but I think that it’s more about (in the producers minds) what will sell rather than “this is how i want to worship” not to say that people can’t worship with love but I just think it’s to much cut and paste with Christian media today. Anyhow that’s my two cents on the subject.

    -Joseph

  6. Emotions can be good, but should always be tethered by the Truth of God’s word…

    and thus Paul gets bumped to #3 :-D

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>