A Burning Love for Jesus
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.(Psalm 42:1)
Fredrick Fabre was one of those saints whose soul panted after God as the doe pants after the water brook, and the measure in which God revealed Himself to his seeking heart set the good man’s whole life afire with a burning adoration rivaling that of the seraphim before the throne. His love for God extended to the three Persons of the Godhead equally, yet he seemed to feel for each One a special kind of love reserved for Him alone.
His love for the Person of Christ was so intense that it threatened to consume him; it burned within him as a sweet and holy madness and flowed from his lips like molten gold. In one of his sermons he said, “Wherever we turn in the church of God, there is Jesus. He is the beginning, middle,and end of everything to us….there is nothing good, nothing Holy, nothing beautiful, nothing joyous which He is not with His servants. No one need be poor, because if he chooses he can have Jesus for his own property and possession. No one need be downcast, for Jesus is the joy of heaven, and it is His joy to enter into sorrowful hearts.
We can never exaggerate…..the compassionate abundance of the love of Jesus to us. All our lives long we might talk of Jesus, and yet we should never come to the end of the sweet things that might be said of Him. Eternity will not be long enough to learn all He is, or to praise Him for all He has done, but then, that matters not; for we shall always be with Him, and we desire nothing more.”
And addressing our Lord directly he said to Him:
“I love thee so, I do not know how
My transports to control;
Thy love is like a burning fire
Within my very soul.
A. W. Tozer
Yesterday we shared that there is a vast difference between seeking the benefits of God and seeking God Himself. The Bible teaches us that we will find Him if we seek for Him with all our hearts. O let us not stop at being thankful for the gifts, though they merit all out thankfulness, no let us press on to find the Giver and let Him receive our elaborate heart-overwhelming thanksgiving. True worship is comprised of seeing God for who He is, recognizing His sovereignty, His glory, and His majesty. It is the outflow of awe and deep thankfulness for all He has done and is doing. More than this it is the expression of a heart that has been touched by the love of God and while immersed in the depth of that love tries within human limits to return that expression to the Lord. True worship has no limits, no restrictions, no shame and nothing withheld. Like the love-stricken one, all that matters is to be able to tell, show, and somehow demonstrate the depths of love for Christ. O that the church of Jesus would openly with abandonment worship Christ. O that we would move beyond orders of services and protocols and bare our hearts to the Lord. O that our voices would raise in praise and adoration to the One that so loves us and that heaven would hear the voices of those broken, feeble, humans who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
In Luke’s Gospel chapter seven we find a story that illustrates this point of God seeking and benefit seeking. Jesus has been invited to Simon’s house for a meal. Although it was custom for the host in welcoming a guest to wash their feet, Simon did not do so. It was custom for the host to kiss the guest but Simon did not do so. It was the custom to anoint the guest’s head with oil but Simon did not do so. It seems as if Simon invited Jesus to his home without really wishing Him to be there. Perhaps Simon saw the following Jesus had and wished to benefit from that popularity. Perhaps he wished to question Jesus and attempt to trap him so the Pharisees, of which he was one, could show Him to be a fraud. Perhaps Simon was a curiosity seeker and wished to have a new experience. Or perhaps Simon invited Jesus to his home so that he might deliberately insult Him. Certainly his conduct was insulting. As Jesus is sitting there, in comes a woman. Luke describes her as “a woman in the city who was known as a sinner.” This woman, and we know nothing about her, apparently had been touched by Jesus in some way. Nothing is said of a previous encounter but much is said of her response at the presence of Jesus. She came with no request, no expressed need, no question, just a desire to love on Jesus and to worship. She, the sinner, comes into a room of “righteous” men. First, as a sinner and second as a woman, her love motivated her to ignore the barriers. She comes boldly into the room. No one else is noticed, her full attention is captured by the presence of Jesus. In the presence of a condemning crowd, she falls at the feet of Jesus. Luke tells us that her tears were so copious that they began to wash the feet of Jesus. This was not just an act of repentance but a deep response of her love for Jesus. Again we know nothing about her, but I think that no one could ever look into the eyes of Jesus and behold His love and not be moved. As her tears fall on the Lord’s feet, she unbinds her hair and begins to wipe his feet. The Bible tells us that a woman’s hair is her glory and in Jesus’ day, women kept their hair up and only let it flow freely in the privacy of their homes with their husbands. This woman offers her glory, all that she is, her very being to the Lord in this expressive act of worship. Her glory bowing at the feet of Jesus. One day, the Bible says, we will receive crowns of righteousness and we will cast those crowns at the feet of Jesus in worship. We will recognize that He alone is worthy of honor, glory and praise. Had this woman stopped here with the tears and the wiping of her hair, most would still have been offended by such a spectacle. Indeed we find Simon and Judas were both offended for very different reasons. Her next act went beyond all reason for she took her box, her alabaster box of perfume, and began to anoint Jesus feet and head. Scholars believe this box of perfume represented her life’s savings. Whatever the case, it was costly, but then true worship is. O that we might see Jesus this way, worthy of all we have or can do to express our love for Him. After all He unashamedly expressed His for us as He stretched out His arms on the cross. Luke says the whole house was filled with the fragrance. Worship does that. It fills our hearts and it fills the house until all present recognize that the Lord is among us. What a picture of one who seeks the Lord Himself rather than His benefits.
Simon and Judas represent those who want the benefits but not the Person. As the woman worships, Simon says to himself, “If He was really a godly man, he would recognize this woman as a sinner and cast her away from Him.” When we chase the benefit of being in the club, so to speak, we have no room for those who do not measure up to our standards. Though our own hearts may be wicked, we reject the idea that at Christ can be interested in sinners. Simon wanted what he believed Jesus could provide, but he really did not want Jesus. That becomes obvious in Jesus’ rebuke and the parable that follows. Judas also only wanted the benefits that he believed Christ provided. The only important thing for Judas was Judas and his plans. The importance of Jesus was only the benefits He could provide for the furtherance of Judas’ plans. When Christ could/ would no longer benefit Judas’ plans, Judas betrayed Him. Here in the presence of true worship, the betrayers heart becomes evident. Judas complains that the pouring of the perfume was a waste. His stated reason sounds right, “we could have fed the poor.” But the writers of the Gospels reveal the true reason was that Judas was a thief and nothing that did not benefit him personally was waste. Indeed those who seek benefits determine value by how much it gives them their desires and if God or the church cannot meet those demands, they often withdraw.
When we seek God rather than His benefits, it changes our perspectives. Let me illustrate. Although my voice quality and guitar playing is sadly lacking, I appreciate quality music and good music is a great help in worship. Some years ago, Sherry and I became close friends with a black pastor and her congregation. We often exchanged pulpits and shared worship services together. When we would go to this church, quite often the pianist was in one key and the vocalists were in another or some would be on note and others out of tune. For someone who appreciates music this was a nightmare. However, in that church, we nearly always experienced to incredible manifested presence of God. It was at times almost tangible. So we went and we worshipped and we sang with those who could not carry a tune for we decided that experiencing the presence of God was more important than singing the right notes. This is not to justify a sloppy lackadaisical approach or to excuse our lack of practice and preparation. The point is that when our desire to worship at the feet of Jesus overwhelms all other desires, no obstacle, no hindrance, no atmosphere can stifle our expressing of our love and gratitude to God. Let us no longer say that we aren’t expressive people, that isn’t our style or any such excuses. Let us see Jesus through our changed hearts rather than through our eyes and like the woman in the story ignore our surroundings and those around us and let us worship Him with our whole hearts.
Let us follow the Lord instructions: “ But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all the things will be added unto you.”
Let us seek Him and by faith know that He will provide all the benefits without our seeking them.
Dr. John Thompson