While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” – Matthew 26:6-13 (NIV)
In October of 2001, I was privileged to work with others at Ground Zero during the recovery efforts. I was careful during my time away to call my 1 ½-year-old daughter every day to stay in touch. However, this plan did not end up working out so well. About day four, she had grown quite tired of talking to me on the phone and wanted to know when I was coming home. By day five she was no longer speaking to me and Mommy was dealing with many tears at night about Daddy being gone. I returned home after my two-week tour and was met at the airport by my wife and little girl. As soon as she saw me, any thoughts of anger vanished in tears and excited cries of “Daddy! Daddy!”
She ran through that airport completely unaware and certainly unashamed of her extravagant display of emotion. We held each other and cried and laughed and hugged and kissed and didn’t care a whit about what anyone thought. For a moment the rest of the world didn’t exist. This is the beauty of life among believers. This is the power of fellowship. We learn to love God with such abandon and extravagance in the presence of our spiritual family that we grow more capable of expressing it where less understanding eyes will see.
It is 9 years later and I have not yet reached that point in my relationship with that once little girl where she is embarrassed to be seen with me. I hope that I never will, but it causes me to ask the question, “Am I ever ashamed to express my love for God?” I read the passage above and wonder if I would have loved Jesus enough to overcome my fears and doubts. I wonder if I am more driven by self-preservation than I am by compassion and devotion. Fortunately my current spiritual family is more than willing to seek an extravagant love for God together.
I want to worship God with abandon. I want to weep with tears of deliverance. I want to laugh with heartfelt joy. I want to kneel at the feet of my Father and worship Him as He sees fit. While the thought of this sometimes causes me to fear, I am assured that “perfect love casts out fear.” There are not words to express the comfort and courage that are gained by knowing I am surrounded by others who desire the same experience. We want to love God more than we love our reputations, more than we love our possessions, more than we love anything that this world has to offer.
So what is your alabaster jar? What is it that you need to give up in order to love God as He deserves to be loved? Who is it that looks with mocking eyes on your faith? What price are you willing to pay in order to worship without shame? To be honest, I’m still working on answering those questions myself, but I am sure that I want to know the answers.