Pursuing the Simplicity of the Gospel: Part 2Wednesday, July 04, 2012
The Second Text:
Forgiveness of Sins is the Simplest Foundation for Worship
Technology has created an environment for first-world citizens which complicates things. We are so overtly exposed to that which was built or produced bigger and better than whatever came before, that we have become desensitized. This makes it hard for us to become excited.
Entertainment is by far the worst culprit in this problem. Special effects have to be bigger and "badder" than previous movies. Story lines have to be more complicated and "smart." The effort to outdo whatever came before means that we in turn become harder and harder to satisfy when it comes to entertainment. This makes parenting especially difficult, and if you're a parent you can attest to this. Trying to watch great movies with my kids that were produced when I was a kid becomes a joke as they all grow bored with the less-than-special effects available during those times. My kids make fun of various features throughout so that enjoying the movie is virtually impossible.
Shift the focus over into the local church and the problem is no less different. Music and programs are the two areas where this problem is most noticeable. The music has to be bigger and better than it was last year. Children's ministry programs have to be bigger and better than last year, and especially bigger and better than the church down the street. Sermons are not exempt, because they too are revised every year it seems, to keep an ever-increasingly unsatisfied consumer satisfied enough to keep coming back. All of this together has the unfortunate and destructive effect of obscuring genuine worship of God. Simplicity flies out the window, unless of course simplicity happens to be the next trend in church life.
This background in my culture makes me immensely grateful for the simplicity of the gospel in the forgiveness of sins. Jesus tells us that His forgiveness of sins is the simplest foundation for our worship (Luke 7:36-50). If we turn to the story of the prostitute who encountered Jesus in Luke 7:36-50, we see a scenario unfolded by Luke quite similar to our first text, but this time with some other features added. Once again, here is the story as told by the New Living Translation.
36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. 37 When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. 38 Then she knelt behind him at his feet,weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair.T hen she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them. 39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She's a sinner!" 40 Then Jesus answered his thoughts. "Simon," he said to the Pharisee, "I have something to say to you." "Go ahead, Teacher," Simon replied. 41 Then Jesus told him this story: "A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver* to one and 50 pieces to the other. 42 But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?" 43 Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt." "That's right," Jesus said. 44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn't offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You didn't greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. 47 "I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love." 48 Then Jesus said to the woman, "Your sins are forgiven." 49 The men at the table said among themselves, "Who is this man, that he goes around forgiving sins?" 50 And Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."There's so much I'd love to camp out on in this text! It's an incredible story chock full of so much helpful stuff when it comes to forgiveness. But notice again the argument here over Jesus' authority to forgive sins. In the first story about the paralyzed man, He demonstrates His authority in healing. In this second story Jesus demonstrates His authority to heal in a story. And the point of the story was made simple by Jesus: the person who knows how great a debt they owe to God loves Jesus more. As Jesus explained,
"I tell you, her sins - and they are many -
have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love.
But a person who is forgiven little, shows only little love."
The simplest foundation for loving Jesus and worshiping Him, like this prostitute did, is the forgiveness of sins. Jesus explains that the fact that she was worshiping Him the way she was was evidence that her sins were already forgiven. And your degree of love toward Jesus and your depth of worship to God will be built upon the simple foundation of forgiveness of sins. The thicker that foundation, meaning the deeper you become aware of your unworthiness, the wider your love will be built, and the higher your worship will be built.
Forgiveness of sins is the engine with which you love King Jesus. How big is your engine? Do you have a motorcyle engine? Or do you have a freight train engine?
In the next post, we will discover the third text (Luke 11:1-4), and see that the forgiveness of sins is the simplest foundation for our prayer life.
About the Author: Rob is a entrepreneur in Statesboro, GA, where he envisions and pursues missional-shaped business for the kingdom. He and his wife Sherri have been married for 18 years and together have three sons and a daughter. Rob believes the mission of the gospel is summed up in four simple phrases: know God, obey Jesus, make disciples, and plant churches. This is the pursuit of his life, as well as the point of his blog.