Be A “Much Love” Person
June 12, 2016
Of all the things that could be said about Simon the Pharisee, one thing was that he was a good person. He had been good all his life. He was always careful to do the good and right thing, or at least things that appeared to be good and right even if they weren’t. He was a good boy growing up, never giving his parents any trouble. He was well educated. To be a Pharisee took years of education, and Simon was very well educated. He was the most educated man in his family, and maybe the most educated person in his village. He was always meticulously groomed with not a hair out of place and his fingernails and toenails always clean and perfectly trimmed. He would always wear the best clothes, and his clothes were always clean and straight.
Simon was a good, well educated, well-groomed man. The perfect Jew. A man that everyone admired. A man that any mother or father would have proud to call their son. But in all his goodness, his education, and his appearance, Simon was missing something. In all his goodness, appearance, studies, and grooming, he missed knowing how to truly love.
I can picture Simon hosting the banquet Luke describes in the passage from Luke 7 we heard a few minutes ago. I can imagine that everything was perfectly in it’s place and all the guests in their places. The food and wine were ready. It looked to be the perfect party hosted by the perfect Pharisee, until someone walked in who was definitely not on the list of invited guests. Even before they recognized her everyone could tell she was not the type of person Simon would invite to his party. Her hair was not cut the neatest possible way. She was wearing way too much makeup. She was definitely not the kind of person Simon would invite to a dinner party, not the kind of person Simon would have invited anywhere, for that matter. As she got closer everyone recognized her. She was someone everyone knew. Not many people admitted to associating with her, but everyone knew who she was. Her reputation defiantly preceded her. Everybody knew her, but everyone, especially the men, acted like they did not know her. Some of the men may have found some excuse to leave the table as she approached, thinking she might be there to confront then about not paying her or that she might make some comment like: “See you next week” and ruin their reputation. You see, she was the town prostitute, and she had raided Simon’s perfect little dinner party. Simon was beside himself.
The prostitute came to Jesus, and humbly bowed at His feet. She then began to kiss His feet, wash His feet with her tears, and dry them with her hair. Everyone seemed embarrassed. Everyone, that is, except for Jesus.
Simon began to think that Jesus was not as good a man as he pretended to be or knew as much as people thought he knew. If he were as good as he pretended to be and if He knew as much as people said He knew, He would know what kind of woman this was and get her to stop kissing His feet and drying them with her hair.
“If this man were a prophet” Simon thought “He would have known what kind of woman this was touching Him, that she was a sinner”
Let me ask you a question. Who had more love for Jesus here? Simon – the good, educated, well groomed Pharisee or the prostitute who was washing Jesus’s feet and drying them with her hair? Jesus knew the answer to this question. Simon, in all his finery, his goodness, and his education, did not know how to love or how to be thankful, say thanks to God, live in a way that thanked God, or that shared God’s love with others. The woman, with all her sins and all her reputation, at least knew how to love. She knew how to be thankful to God and Jesus for forgiving her. She knew how to share God’s love with others. She had a reputation and certainly knew how to sin, but once she gave her life to Jesus, she knew how to love
She was a what I refer to as a “much love” person.
Simon was not.
Are you? Are you a “much love” person? God calls us to be “much love” people. God calls us to be people who experience His love and grace, and then share His love and grace with others. God calls us to be people who realize that we are not perfect, but who God, in His mercy, has loved and forgiven, and who are willing to love and forgive others. God calls us to be “much love” people.
Too many times, instead of realizing God’s great love for us and sharing that with others, we sit back like Simon the Pharisee and condemn them, judge them, talk about them, set ourselves apart from them, and want to have nothing to do with them. We feel no love for them. But God calls us to have “much love”. God calls us to have “much acceptance”. God calls us to be “much love” people.
But, why should we love those who we know have not lived perfect lives?
Well, you might be different from me, I don’t know, but I am not all that perfect myself, and if I try to condemn others I will not get very far before I end up condemning myself.
How about you? Are you perfect? Can you judge someone else without being afraid of exposing your own sins? None of us are perfect, are we? All of us have sinned. But, by the grace of God, we all can be forgiven. We all can find new life. We all can live in new ways. In fact, everyone can discover God’s love, and share God’s love with all people.
God calls us to love those whom we know have not lived perfect lives because we ourselves are not perfect. God calls us to share God’s forgiveness with all people because we ourselves have been forgiven. We “love much” because we have been forgiven of much. God, in His infinite love, has forgiven us and calls us to share His infinite love with others.
We can be “much love” people. We can show love to those who have sinned, because we have sinned, too. When people come to us for an experience of God’s forgiving love, we can share it with them. When we see folks not living perfect lives, we can love them and show them God’s love, because God has loved us. Of course, we need to show them a better way to live, but we do need to it in a manner of love and not a manner of condemnation.
God has loved and forgiven us, and calls us to be “much love” people.
We can be “much love” people. In fact, we can be a “much love” Church. We can be a Church that understands that our mission, our calling, is to show God’s love to all people. We can be a Church that understands that our mission is to show those who are living in wrong ways how they can live better. We can be a Church that understand that our mission is to show those living without God in their lives how they can live with God in their lives. But we can do this in a spirit of love and acceptance and graciousness, the same spirit of love and acceptance God has shown to each and every one of us.
A minister who works at a large city Church tells the story of a prostitute he befriended as she came to his Church for food. The first time he saw her, he says, she was selling herself on the street like hundreds of other runaway teenagers he had seen before. Lost in the big city, doing what they had to do to survive. Most of them were the used, abused, and neglected of the world, the children whose experience had convinced them that they were unloved and unlovable. This minister’s church offered them hot coffee, sandwiches, and a safe place to sleep if they wanted it. Some just took the coffee and the food and went straight back into the night. One night this particular girl hung around. She seemed to need to talk, so the minister sat beside her on the curb and listened. She told him about her family. The abuse she had taken from her father. How she had run away and how she now felt that no one loved her. The minister told her that God really loved her. She shook her head “no” and walked away. A few weeks later he saw her again. They started talking again, and again he assured her of God’s love. This happened for several months, until finally one night she said she wanted to give her life to God. If God could love her, she said, she could love Him.
That’s what it’s all about, my friends. It’s all about being “much love” people. People who show God’s love to others in tangible ways, so they can learn of God’s love, experience it, and let it change their lives.
You know, this minister could have been judging, like Simon the Pharisee, but instead he was loving, and made a difference in this girl’s life.
Friends, let’s make a difference in people’s lives. Let’s be people, let’s be a Church, that makes a difference in the lives of others. Let’s be “much love” people. Amen.