Thursday, January 27, 2011

Week 1 - It Is Risky

While [Jesus] was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.  The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Mark 14:3-9

Religion is something that many of us use to try to avoid risk in our lives. We leverage religion to avoid hell, avoid pain and suffering, avoid our past (and sometimes our present) as we inordinately focus on some distant, all-fixed-now kind of heaven.
While this type of escapist thinking does fit many of the world’s religions, it precisely opposes the way of Jesus. In His life, death and resurrection, we see a Christ who does not avoid hell; he goes there and back. He does not side-step suffering; He responds with healing embrace to the suffering of those He encounters, and extends His arms willingly to receive his own brutal death. He does not exchange awareness of reality for a far off kingdom to come; He says the kingdom is here and now.
It is risky. Christianity is not a safe religion. When lived, it is a sacrificial relationship.
So as we encounter the young woman and her jar, we begin to understand why her life stood out among the religious. It was a risky move for her to crash the dinner party of religious men – a place she never would have been welcomed. It was risky for her to exchange her future for the Eternal Now, Jesus, who was already here. It was risky to bear her heart to the world in so intimate an act as anointing the head of One she believed to be worthy of a king’s welcome – but who was not the king of their occupied land. It was risky, but love compelled her anyway. 
No wonder Jesus loved her. No wonder she is our example.
The Real Question: What is God calling me to risk for the love of Him? Does my love for God include a readiness to sacrifice?
Family Talk:  Talk with your kids about what you feel God is calling you to risk for the love of him?
ONE in Prayer: Jesus, I confess that so often I am unwilling to risk even small things in my life for You. This is not how I want my heart to be. Open my heart to Your love so that my love for You can become more like Jesus’ – a love that surpasses everything else, no matter the risk. Amen.

In college, I was asked to do some medical translating on a trip to Bolivia.  Since I worked and paid my own way through school, I thought, “No way can I find the money/support to not only go overseas, but also take a month of fulltime summer work opportunity,” but I just couldn't let go of the knowledge that God wanted me to go. So, I begrudgingly agreed.  Boy was I wrong.  God was so faithful that not only did I make enough money (in support) to get to Bolivia, but also to provide substantial amounts of money to the hospital we worked in to offset SAVING the life of a child.  I almost missed out on being a part of helping to save a life!  Talk about living the Gospel.  You can't beat saving a life to know what people mean when they say being Jesus.
 – Megan

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