2 Nov 2009

Jesus, the Pharisee, the Prostitute and I

My whole life I have pretty much been surrounded by all things 'Christian'.

I went to Sunday School, Church, BB, JAM Club, Scripture Union, CE (sometimes ;)).

I have been involved with ministries like Street Reach, Athletes in Action, Christians In Sport and Ambassadors in Sport ( I fully endorse anything 'in Sport').

I have read "If you want to walk on water....", 'What's so Amazing About Grace', and 'Blue Like Jazz'. I have not read anything by Joel Osteen however. Oh well, 3 out of 4 ain't bad!!

My point being I have pretty much been involved or read or experienced most of the traditional Northern Irish Christian activities.

I don't say that to show off or seem cool. If you were brought up in a Christian house in Northern Ireland, you most likely can identify with all these things, probably more.

In fact, I think I benefited a lot from the few years at Uni when I almost never went to Church or had any Christian culture impacted on me.

Maybe that sounds strange but without that I wouldn't have started questioning stuff, I wouldn't have thought differently about Christianity which to be honest was becoming boring and irrelevant to me. I wouldn't have started reading stuff by people like Rob Bell, which have without exaggerating, changed my life.

If you have been brought up in a Christian family and never gone through that rebellious period that is great. This is not an attack on what I am positive was a great time of growth for you.

But for me, I think I needed a bit of a break. I needed God for sure. I always have, I still do and I always will, but I also needed to break out of the Christian bubble. I think I would have suffocated if not.

One of the problems I had, even though I maybe didn't know it at the time, was that I didn't appreciate Jesus. I had heard about Jesus my whole life but I didn't really know about Jesus. I didn't really know who he was and just how subversive he is.

Things like Salvation were just words I understood but I wasn't fully impacted by. I got comfortable with Jesus. I got too familiar with the fact that he died for me. It started slowly to not mean much to me.

I hear stories of poeple whose lives were messes and who then found Jesus and they are so passionate about their new faith and sometimes it doesn't sound familiar to me. It's like they appreciate Jesus more.

And I wish that was how I felt.

In Luke 7 Jesus has dinner at the house of a Pharisee called Simeon. At some point during the dinner a prostitute walks in off the street and starts to cry in front of Jesus. As if that wasn't bad enough she lets her hair down (which was a big no no) and starts to wipe Jesus' feet and anoint them. All that sounds pretty bad but at least it was more than what Simeon did. Which was nothing.

The woman knew that she was a mess. She knew her life was in tatters and she knew that Jesus could help. And he did. He saved her from the things she was doing. He gave her a new life. He liberated her.

Simeon though, was maybe less aware of his sins. He was confused. His guests were confused. They didn't know what just happened. Simeon didn't really know who Jesus was. He didn't really appreciate Jesus.

I think that I am more like Simeon a lot of the time. I have been immersed in religion for so long that it fogs the fact that I need Jesus. It stops me from seeing that I am pretty messed up and I need him.

I don't appreciate Jesus enough. I don't see who Jesus really is.

And I want that to change.

I want to wake up every day and remember that I need Jesus. I want to remember things I have struggled with in the past and things I struggle with today and remember that Jesus can save me. I want to appreciate what he did for me more.

Most of the time I act like Simeon and don't love Jesus enough. The prostitute was so indebted to Jesus that she anointed his feet. She understood how amazing what Jesus did was. Simeon didn't get that. He offered Jesus nothing.

Simeon had lived as part of the religous elite for most of his life. The prostitute lived as part of the worst and most despised people, most of hers.

It was the religious person who didn't treat Jesus like he deserved. It was the person who was as far away from the 'religious' life that you could get, that did.

When I take Jesus for granted and I don't learn from my mistakes, or when I treat people badly, or when I want my own way and don't think of how that will affect others, I am acting like Simeon.

When I become too caught up in 'Christian' activities and religion I lose sight of Jesus and what he has done for me.

So this week I want to start looking at Jesus more.

I want to appreciate him more.

I want to give more of me to Jesus than I have.

Maybe we should all be a bit more like the prostitute.


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