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Spiritual Director’s Message for February 2010

February 15, 2010

Extravagant Love

Dear Friends of Emmaus and Chrysalis,

It’s easy to recognize Christ’s love as extravagant – after all, Jesus gave everything He had. But what can we give back to Him to show our love and gratitude?  Many Christians make sure they do what they believe is expected of them:  being involved with church, gaining knowledge about the Bible, and avoiding immoral behavior (as well as those engaged in it).  But does this make God feel truly loved?

Luke 7:36-50 tells of a sinful woman who anointed Jesus’ feet at a Pharisee’s home.  In this account, the Lord teaches us what showing love for Him looks like – and what it doesn’t look like.

Unafraid of drawing criticism or looking undignified, the woman demonstrated gratitude and love by sacrificing all she had. Her lavish deed far surpassed the cultural courtesy expected of the host, who, in fact, actually shirked his responsibility for the sake of reputation and appearance.  The kind of love God desires is heartfelt and focused on glorifying Him, not on looking super-spiritual or “respectable.” (Luke 21:1-4)

Only the “broken in spirit” grasp how vital and priceless the Lord’s forgiveness is. The issue wasn’t whether the woman’s sins were greater than the Pharisee’s.  Rather, she understood her desperate need for Christ, which allowed her to love Him more.  God is after authenticity; if we want a deeper relationship with Him, we must come as we are.  (Psalms 51:17, Matthew 5:3; 9:11-13)

Self-sufficiency and spiritual pride blind us to what God truly values. Humbling ourselves brings us closer to His heart (Psalm 138:6, Matthew 23:12-15, James 4:6-8).

The woman came to Jesus labeled by her sins, but she left with a new identity; forgiven, loved and accepted by the Lord. When we come to Him without pretense and fully receive forgiveness, He gives us freedom from our old identity (Ephesians 2:4-9, II Corinthians 5:15-17).

Yours in Christ

Jim Sunderland

Emmaus Spiritual Director

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