God: Projection or Denial (2): Love vs. Looks
"Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so He went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, He would know who is touching Him and what kind of woman she is - that she is a sinner."
Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Tell me teacher," he said.
"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"
Simone replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."
"You have judge correctly," Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon."Do you see this woman? I cam into your house. you did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. you did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil over my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven - for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.
Then Jesus said to her. "Your sins are forgiven."
- Luke 7:36-50
This is an interesting story. I find it interesting because some people think that the Christian gospel goes something like this:
"You think you have a need for God, to love God. Somehow you think that God will meet this need so you want to do nice things for Him and make Him happy. This is all done in the belief that somehow He will then be nice to you and do good things for you back. This is why you go to church, or get baptized, or read your Bible. You are constantly trying to please God so that He may be happy with you and accept you."
However, this is not the gospel. In fact, this is the opposite of what Christians believe, rather, what Christians believe is that all of us have done something wrong. The message of the Gospel is not, "do nice things for God and He will do nice things for you," the message of the Gospel is that instead, "While we were still sinners God loved us (Romans 5:8)."
He offers us forgiveness first. And upon receiving this forgiveness the response is love. The Greek in the Luke 7 verse is interesting because it states, "sou hai hamartiai Apheontai," translated more accurately as, "Her sins have been forgiven." The correct rendering of the forgiveness Jesus describes being in the past tense.
Jesus does not look at this woman and say, "You are now forgiven." Rather, He declares to Simon that she has already been forgiven. She has already heard Jesus talk about forgiveness and redemption, living a new life free of sin and she has already declared that truth in her life personally before this situation takes place. She understood, believed, and now knows forgiveness in her life.
Simone's problem is that he does not see a woman, he sees a prostitute who he thinks cannot be forgiven. I am sad to say that sometimes it is the religious people, and more often than not, the church, who make people in the most need the least welcome. And this is where the subject of sin needs to take place...
We don't like the word sin because it often sounds very morally judgmental. But the effect of sin on any human being is disastrous. The effect of sin is that it dehumanizes us, making us see ourselves as objects and other people as objects. I've wrote about this before(1) but I'll talk briefly on it again, the relationship between you and an object is different from the relationship between you and another person.
The relationship between you and another person is that of connection, but the relationship between you and an object is that of consumption. You consume objects for your own pleasure or convenience. This is why Christians are so strongly against things such as pornography, which turns other people into objects to be consumed. This is such a reality in our world today that sex is no longer about connection with people but rather, about consumption for your own pleasure or purposes.
This idea permeates so deeply within our society that sin has convinced us to market ourselves to other people.
Simon the Pharisee looks as this women and sees a prostitute, he sees what sin has convinced him is an object. Jesus looks at this woman and sees a person who is need of forgiveness. She has received the forgiveness and has fallen deeply in love with the person of Jesus Christ. She is not forgiven because she now loves Him, she is forgiven because He has already loved her.
So what does all this mean? Why am I talking about this passage in the Gospel of Luke?
If you have come to a place where you realize you are in need of forgiveness. A place where you realize that are you are completely undeserving of forgiveness and suddenly find that you have been forgiven, the next response is one of love. You fall in love with what has given you forgiveness.
This loving relationship is at the center of the Christian gospel, this loving relationship is the purpose of the Christian gospel.
(1) To learn more about the process that sin can take in our lives within society I wrote a two part blog post:
Realizations of Connection and Consumption (1)
Realizations of Connection and Consumption (2)