As I was driving the other day, a worship song I loved started playing over the radio. I turned up the volume and sang my heart out, even swaying to the beat and waving my arms during stoplights. But then, I had this uncanny feeling somebody was watching me. I twisted to my left to see a car-full of high school boys rolling in laughter at my antics. I stopped singing and shot forward like a race-car driver once the light turned green.
Please tell me I’m not the only one this has happened to!
My experience flashed in my mind as I continued to read through the Gospel of John for Lent. In John 12, Jesus is eating with Lazarus and his disciples. Martha is busy in the kitchen (which shouldn’t be a surprise, because that’s the way she rolls) when Mary interrupts. She shatters all of the social cues as well an alabaster jar filled with nard, a very costly perfume, and anoints the feet of Jesus, wiping his feet with her hair.
The guests question, scold, criticize, and maybe even laugh at Mary’s behavior. Though the company were not who she made the offering for, she couldn’t ignore their response. She felt the twinge of being hurt. Misunderstood. Judged. In a brief moment of self-awareness, she may have second-guessed her decision, What have I done?
I don’t know about you, but there have been times when I tried to give my best, in an act of adoration, love, and extravagance to God, and found myself second guessing and wondering, What have I done?
At times I’ve been caught up in worship in church, when I’m responding to God, when I suddenly become painfully self-aware and pull back, wondering, What have I done? After all, I shouldn’t be that demonstrative in church.
This is a breathtaking portrait of a woman yearning for Jesus and cannot contain her desire any longer. Her response is worship and sacrifice-and she offers her love in the form of an extravagant gift, an expression of adoration, where actions speak far louder than words.
Mary’s extravagant act reminds us that God longs for us to long for him. In the beauty of his presence, we can’t help but find our affections set on God, our hearts captivated by his love. Caught up in the delight of God, our natural response is worship-words of thanks that roll off the tongue, songs of adoration that spring from the heart, acts of extravagance.
What if we were to abandon ourselves to extravagant worship? Our gifts may be considered flamboyant and exorbitant to other guests. Maybe those watching our love offerings think our time and resources are better spent elsewhere. But to God who receives our nard poured out, our worship is nothing but beautiful.
Anyone interested in diving into John’s Gospel with me may enjoy Pursuing God’s Beauty: Stories from the Gospel of John.
How are you challenged to love extravagantly this week?
**Photo courtesy of here