Jesus was loved by ordinary people; not the religious people, or the church experts.
This morning a thought crystallized in a new way that I've been experiencing, reading about, and studying for a few years now: sin, as we often think about it (i.e., lying, cheating, etc.), is the manifestation of the real sin in our heart; and love is the cure for our deformed hearts.
Raised to be a very good girl the concept of sin has been difficult for me to grasp. I've been a very good Pharisee, so to speak. Even in seminary, leaning about the ugliness of my own heart was a rude awakening. But now I am not so much ashamed of it as I desire healing for it, because I've had a taste of what it's like to be the beloved of God.
As I read in Mark 11 how the people adored Jesus, I was struck how there were no church officials there to praise him or welcome him. And I got to thinking that's likely because the common people knew something about themselves the relious folk didn't: they needed, and specifically they needed what he was offering - love.
Jesus loved them where they were at, offends love changed them from the depths of their hearts to the actions that sprung from them. I bet the same thing would have happened if a scribe or Pharisee was willing to receive Jesus' gift of love and acceptance - the problem was they didn't see their need, and even if they did admitting it was too painful or costly. In the end it kept them, and us, from what we need most.
For me, seeing my need was difficult, but admitting it out loud and living in the reality of my insufficiency to be who I wanted others to think I was even more painful. The mask had to come off to get the healing love I desperately need. It's painful, but its worth it. In my life this means saying yes to friends who actually ask "How are you?" and mean it. It means saying no to serving when I'm out of capacity to care for others well. It means risking vulnerability with those who've proven safe to share with. It means asking for what I need from my husband, friends, and community. It means learning to be okay with failure - I will drop the ball. It will be okay. It means choosing not to take others' responsibility from them so I feel safe, but allowing them to fail - even when it's painful for me.
Jesus, thank you for gently revealing my need and sin, and helping me see my need for you not only in my actions, but in my soul where they spring from. Help me more and more to open my hands to the love you offer me as your beloved. And help me to share that gift with others in a way that represents your heart for me and them.
I'm curious if you've ever struggled like I do in the area of receiving Jesus' love:
How difficult or easy is it for you to recognize your need for Jesus?
What stops you from receiving his gift?
How might guilt or shame hinder you from embracing Jesus' passionate love for you?
Thank you for reading. :)