A story of life change and the power of forgiveness. That forgiveness is offered to all, forgiveness leads to love and it leads to Liberty.
About Chase Jones
Community has been modeled for me my entire life. Whether by my parents, our church, my group of friends or countless people around me, living life together, eating... Read more
Hey, my name is Chase Jones, and I am the student director here. It is such a blessing to get to hang out with our kids at this campus. Daniel Smith, who's our junior high director, and Rachel Landingham, who's our female coordinator, are running SMMR Collective on that side of the building. Kyle Kaigler is teaching to our students right now. That's pretty sweet. I love the gig I get to have. The best part of it is that we have 30-plus adult small group leaders who invest in students and spend time with them. They're the real heart of our ministry, so just give it up for them for a second, because that's amazing.
I also am a husband to Tara. She is the best. This is our little baby Reeves. I am a new girl dad. There is a picture of Reeves on the Fourth of July looking amazing. She's the best. It's her first time in Red over there, so we're a little worried, but we're going to be okay. I love my family. I also am the loudest, proudest member of the Fightin' Texas Aggie class of 2012. Hey! Woo! Oh my gosh! That was better than the first hour. I love it.
Some of you Aggies are so excited. There's pride welling up in you, and then everyone else who didn't go is like, "I'm not listening to a word this guy says because he's an Aggie," and that's okay. I have 22 relatives who went to A&M, so I really didn't have a choice. I went to A&M. There are a lot of things when you go to College Station, Texas, that you learn really quickly. You're either on the inside or if you're an outsider you're like, "What is happening?"
For example, when you go to an A&M football game, there are guys called _yell leaders_ on the field. Everyone else calls them _male cheerleaders_. They're going to start doing things like _this_, and you'd better know the chants that are happening. While the chants are happening, you have to take your hat off, because if you don't someone will yell at you. If you're on the bleacher and not off the bleacher, they'll yell at you for that too. You have to be off the bleacher, ready to say the chants. Do it right.
You know our mascot is a dog, which makes zero sense, but it's awesome. Gig 'em Aggies. You know you'll get greeted with a "Howdy," and then you'll shake someone's hand, and if you see an Aggie ring you'll ask, "What class did you graduate?" (I don't even have my Aggie ring on today. I'm such a good Aggie right here, right now.) If you walk into the MSC, you have to take your hat off because it's a memorial to soldiers. There are so many different things.
I'm even just thinking in my head. Like, we have more five-star recruits in Alabama right now for 2019. I'm so excited. A&M people know this stuff. It's really uncomfortable if you're an outsider and you walk in. You're like, "What _is_ this? Is this maybe a cult? I don't know." When you go to Aggieland, you see that. I say that because I think it's easy to know insiders and outsiders. We do this in our lives. It starts really young. We know who is in and who is out.
I think of the schools you send your kids to or the teams we play on as a kid. You know who's on the inside and who's an outsider. When you get to college, it's the dorm room or the fraternity you pledge or the sorority you rush. It's the social organization you get into. You know there are insiders and outsiders. Then when you get into a career there are departments you work for. Your workplace might be a place where you wear a suit and tie, and others it's just business casual, and you get off early or you don't. You know the culture within your work. You know who's an insider and outsider.
In our adult lives, that also plays out all the time. I think about conversations you're in on. When you walk up to a group of people, you're either in that conversation or you're out of it. The TV shows people talk about. If you haven't watched it, it's just awkward. It's not a great conversation. You're outside the conversation. If you're a CrossFitter you know the inside stuff and the outside, or if you're just a regular gym guy like me, that's cool too. You know the inside and the outside.
I think I know why we do this. It is so much easier, so much more efficient to love insiders than it is to love outsiders. It's so much easier. You don't have to get outside of your lane. You can love _these_ people. You don't have to worry about _those_ people. You just stay in your little confined area and love the people who are like you and like the same things as you, and you know the lingo and how to talk and how to be in that group.
Bob Goff, who's one of my favorite people, says it this way: "What I've come to realize, though, is that I was avoiding the people I didn't understand and the ones who lived differently than me. Here's why: some of them creeped me out. Sure, I was polite to them, but sadly, I've spent my whole life avoiding the people Jesus spent his whole life engaging."
Jesus spent his life engaging the outsiders. He didn't miss it. When I read this quote, I thought of the story we're going to cover this morning, which is so exciting. What I want you to hear is this is a message on forgiveness. Jesus came to free us so we could love people who are different than us, that we would do what Jesus did, that we could see his example and follow it.
I have a question for you guys. When was the last time you avoided somebody who was different than you? I know, for me, I've done that because I love my comfort. Last week, the first week of _The Outsiders_, we talked about that Jesus came to bring the outsiders in. This week, we're going to look at a story in Luke 7. It's going to show us that Jesus came to forgive us all, even the outsiders.
We're going to look at the story of the forgiven woman. Verse 36 is where we'll start. There's so much good stuff in this passage. I can't wait. If you know me, you know I say, "Let's go" a lot. So, let's go. _Forgiveness is offered to all_, _forgiveness leads to love_, and _forgiveness leads to liberty_. While you guys get there, there are three main characters we'll cover in this passage.
One is _Jesus_. He's on the scene. He's a miracle worker. He has hung around the religious elite, and he is bold. He is going to a Pharisee's house. I love it, because I think you guys will get a clear picture… I tell this to our students all the time. If we could get a clear picture of who Jesus is, his character, and the way he walked and taught, man, our hearts would be set on fire for God.
Then there's _Simon the Pharisee_. He's this guy. Last week we talked about tax collectors, and Jesus was hanging out with them, which is really awesome. This week it's a Pharisee, this religious elite. He was self-reliant. He had it going on. He kind of stood at the back of the room and watched the scene.
It's his own house, but he invites Jesus, this teacher. That's all he thinks of him as. You'll see really quickly that he was missing it. It was going over his head. For a lot of us in this room, we're going to be able to relate with Simon the Pharisee. Our faith has grown dull. We rely on our own selves to walk with God. Our righteousness is about us.
Then the third character, _the sinful woman_. She's called the _woman of the city_. Some people think she was a prostitute. We know there was sexual sin in her past. She shows up. She's an outsider who in this story becomes an insider. Some of you in here are going to identify with the story of her brokenness, her hidden sin, her sexual past.
You will hear some of the most life-changing and amazing news, that Jesus came to reconcile us to a holy God, to love us, to say, "Hey, no matter what you've done in your past, he loves you and wants to bring you into his family." With those characters in mind, those three people…Jesus, Simon the Pharisee, and the sinful woman…let's jump in and read the Scripture.
Verse 36 says, **"One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at table."** Jesus went in. He went in to the table. He sat. It was probably a low table, and his feet were behind him. That's the scene. We're in this guy's house. It's a banquet, kind of like a mini conference where people would gather to hear the teacher of the day.
Verse 37: **"And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment..."** That was expensive. It was what she had. It was probably worn around her neck. It was oil.
**"...and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, 'If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.'"**
Why was Simon shocked that she walked in? He was shocked because he didn't hang around people who weren't like him. He didn't normally have that kind of guest in his house. Once again, that same character I told you about, standing in the back, pointing and watching the scene. Jesus is sitting at his table, and this woman walks in. He is like, "I'm not going to hang out… Who is _this_? Does Jesus know who this is? Because if he did, he would cast her out of this house." That's Simon's attitude.
This girl was defined as a sinner. People knew her sins. It was plastered. They knew in this small city what she had done, and she came to Jesus. Why do you think she came? She came maybe because she heard stories. Maybe her friend's life was changed or maybe she thought about her story and her past and thought, "Man, if there's any hope… I've tried everything. Nothing has worked. I can't get out of the rut of my life, but I've heard about this Jesus. His stories have gone before him. I'm just going to go. I want to see him. I want to go to him."
I love this, because she did. She went to Jesus. Simon invited Christ in. She shows up and walks in. You know she had to feel scared to walk in that room, and yet she did. I love it, because there are seven verbs in one sentence. My wife is an English teacher. That's a lot of verbs in one sentence. Let me just read them to you. She _learned_ Jesus was there. She _brought_ an alabaster jar. She _stood_ at Jesus' feet. She _wept_ and _wiped_ Jesus' feet with her hair. She _kissed_ Jesus' feet. She _anointed_ his feet with oil.
She is acting on her love. She is searching for Jesus. She showed up. I love it because what this picture shows of our Savior is someone who loves not only the hard-hearted Simon, the Pharisee, but also this broken woman who was far from God and had a past and who these people in that house didn't normally run with. I say this to students all the time. This is an illustration I say. "Hey, imagine if every sin, past, present, and future, was on these projector screens right here."
Imagine if your sins were up there. A lot of us would walk out of this room out of shame and guilt. For my own life, if my sin from my past was on that screen, it would sound a lot like this: addiction to pornography, running after all of the things life had, whether it was performance on the sports teams I played in high school or it was girls or it was the drugs or alcohol I could find pleasure in. Those are just a few that would be on that screen, all while going to church and acting like I was this awesome kid.
I grew up in Plano right down the road, went to Plano Senior High, went to a church on the other side of town, yet those are just some of the things that would be on my screen. Do you want to know what is unreal and just stops me in my tracks often? Jesus knew everything on that screen. He knew everything about my life, and Romans 5:8 tells me he loved me. He knew everything and he loved me. "But God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."
While I was at my absolute worst, Christ died. My rebellion was high. His love was higher. He came after me. The truth is we all have sins that could be on that projector screen, but we're not defined by our sin because of what Christ did on the cross, and that is true of this woman in this story. Her sins were known. A lot of us, our sins _aren't_ known. Regardless, the God of the universe knows, and he chose you and loves you, for those who put their trust in Christ.
That's the amazing piece of the gospel. That is the cross and the freedom that comes from it. He died a death you deserve. He took all your sin on the cross. His blood purchased for us a freedom and a life to know him and have a relationship with him and, more importantly, be freed from our sin so we could walk with him and worship him and follow him.
So, _forgiveness is offered to all_. It was offered to the hard-hearted and to the sinful, broken woman, and it's offered to you guys. You have to accept and come to the gift. What this means is we can't draw lines on who gets to hear this truth and who doesn't. As the church, as believers, we should share this truth that forgiveness is offered to all.
They want to hear the gospel. "Let me tell you about it. Please hear what God has for your life." Share it more and more, and if you struggle like me at sharing that, because I do, even though I know the truth and God has redeemed me and, at 17, Romans 5:8 changed the trajectory of my life… We, the church, have a chance.
The next part I want to share with you is that _understanding forgiveness leads to love_. We're going to pick up in verse 40. **"And Jesus answering said to him, 'Simon, I have something to say to you.' And he answered, 'Say it, Teacher.' 'A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.'"** One owed a great debt, and one owed a small debt. ** "When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?"**
Listen to Simon's weak answer of a hard-hearted guy. **"Simon answered, 'The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.' And he said to him, 'You have judged rightly.' Then turning toward the woman…"** I love this. He turns to the broken woman who the Pharisee thought, "Man, if you knew what she did you wouldn't be close to her." He starts pointing to her and saying, "Watch her example. I'll tell you about her. She understands who I am and what I have come to do."
**"…he said to Simon, 'Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.'"** Her hair was used in her career as a prostitute to draw men in, and now it is being used to wash the feet of the Savior. Amazing grace. Amazing transformation.
**"You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet."** I'm not into feet. Feet are nasty, and she's kissing Jesus' feet. She has that much lavish love to bestow on the Savior who forgave her. Forgiveness leads to love. Let's watch. **"You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little."**
_He who is forgiven little, loves little. He who is forgiven much, loves much._ For those of us who understand forgiveness, love should be leaking out of us. It should be the way in which we are marked and look different to the world. So, how do you remind yourself of this forgiveness? For me, it's just reading this. It's reading God's Word. It's reminding myself of the truth of who God is. It's spending time with people who can actually help me and sharpen me to be God's man, and it is praying and being with him, being with Jesus.
The more I see the cross, the more I see the character of God, the more lovely and beautiful it becomes, the more I understand. You've probably heard this phrase a lot of times at Watermark. We say, "Draw a circle around yourself and fix everything in it," and that's an amazing phrase. In terms of love, I want to challenge you to do _this_: draw a circle 30 feet around you and love everybody in it.
Here's what I mean: love people who are close to you, right around you, whether it's at the doctor's office or when you're getting gas or during the meet and greet here at church or right out there in the lobby or when you're going to work. I don't know. Wherever it is, that you would draw a circle around yourself 30 feet wide and love everybody in it. People who are physically close to you…you would love them. That would be a mark of the church. That would be a mark of understanding your forgiveness.
I just have a question for us…_How are we doing at that?_ How are _you_ doing at that? If you're like me at all, sometimes it may feel like you're just clocking it in, checking the box of Christianity, coming on Sundays, and the rest of the week the gospel doesn't affect you in any way. Maybe dropping your kids off at kids' ministry or student ministry and just hoping they turn out better than you.
You are missing one of the greatest blessings you could have: walking with Jesus, having a childlike faith, seeing God do things that would be amazing. You would miss out on a blessing the Scripture talks about, that forgiveness leads to love. It's not just a lame faith. It's fun. It's amazing. Forgiveness leads to love. I think a lot of times we don't really understand our forgiveness.
I can understand five years ago… I just shared my story from eight years ago of when my life changed at 17 at Plano Senior High School. I can realize I'm forgiven for _those_ things and maybe even three weeks ago and maybe even a week ago, but today, do I understand my forgiveness, that before a holy God the gospel meets me in my mess today, that I can be free to share it, to confess my sin, to live in the light, to be able to love people, not deal with guilt and shame?
Hear me loud and clear as we look at this woman, this sinner who did it right. Going to the feet of Jesus is part of our goal, just getting to the feet of Jesus. The more time you spend with Jesus, the more you'll realize the depth of your sinfulness and the depravity and the great forgiveness of God. Spurgeon says it like this: "He who has stood before his God, convicted and condemned, with the rope around his neck is the man to weep for joy when he is pardoned, to hate the evil which has been forgiven…" _A hate for sin is a love for God. A love for God is a hate for sin._
I want to put up a graphic we've used here at Watermark before. It just shows the bigness of the cross. When you understand the growing awareness of God's holiness and then also understand where you are sinful and broken, areas where you don't live up to God's plan for you, the cross just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
Honestly, re:generation, a ministry here at Watermark, has been so helpful to me. I did it about two years ago. I think a lot of people who have gone through re:generation really do experience that "big crossness." There is a bunch of people walking around with big crosses in front of their faces. That had that effect on me in helping me understand where I was broken and in need of grace.
The opposite of a big cross is a shrinking cross or a cross that stays the same. Unfortunately, I think this can be a lot of people in the church. It can be me at times. We don't understand God's holiness, and we don't understand our brokenness, our forgiveness. Therefore, our cross just stays meek and small and we kind of look like Simon, who's dull in his faith and missing the mark. It's going over our heads, and we're kind of checking the box of Christianity. We have excuses.
What is _your_ excuse of not making the cross bigger? "I don't have time to read my Bible. I don't have time to jump into community. I don't have time to serve." I don't know what it is for you. Maybe it's just, "I don't understand the gospel." We'd love to tell you about it. I remember in college I went to a Bible study, and there was this guy who led it. His name was Taco. Whenever you hear a guy's name Taco who's leading a Bible study, you go, because that's an awesome name. So I went. I would go every week.
I remember sitting there one time in Taco's Bible study, and there was this kid right in front of me. He was new. Everyone knew he was new to the room. There would be a lot of guys, probably 30 to 35 guys in a little living room. I just remember watching him. From the moment he walked in, his eyes were big. He was sitting on the edge of his seat, just eager. You could tell he had this eagerness. He was raising his hand every chance he could get.
He had this passion and excitement. He was like, "Yeah, that's amazing. Jesus did this? What?" and asking these questions. I remember my heart getting more and more like, "Dude, does this guy not realize I love Jesus too? Just because you're showing more passion, dude… I want to raise _my_ hand for some questions." I started judging the way he was acting. I was too much of a coward to say anything, but the guy next to me leaned over, and I'll never forget this.
He goes, "Hey, man, did you just become a believer or something?" Almost to say, "Hey, dude, just chill out. One day when you're farther along walking with Jesus and you have kids running around, all this stuff, you're going to be a little more chill about Jesus. You need balance in your life. Yeah, you're passionate now. I was like that too when I first became a believer, but now, dude, get it under control. Stop that."
I just remember in that moment repenting and going, "Lord, may I never lose my passion, my curiosity, the willingness to raise my hand, to be excited about what God is doing, and understanding my forgiveness." That guy had a great understanding of his forgiveness and how much Jesus loved him, and the guy who asked the question and I were missing it. It was over our heads. So let's not shrink the cross.
The question to you is…_When did that become you?_ When did that become us? Dull, checking that box, not having the same passion. I truly believe the more we see Christ for who he is, the more our cross gets big, there should follow with some passion, excitement, and childlike faith. When we engage with people, outsiders, there's this heart rate that starts beating, and you know you're in line with what God is doing, and you reach out to people.
A lot of times the reason I don't… My excuse is I love my comfort and I'm fearful. I don't know what it is for you, but as our passion increases, as our heart increases, it's a "get to" faith, not a "have to." I _get_ to follow God. I _get_ to get up in the morning and read God's Word. I _get_ to lead a family devotional. I get to, I get to, I get to. Not a "Man, I have to go to church. The family is counting on me. Better load up. Gotta go." I _get_ to. If we don't love outsiders, then I think we don't really understand the depth of our forgiveness.
Lastly, _forgiveness leads to liberty_. Let's finish verses 48-50. **"And he said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.' Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, 'Who is this, who even forgives sins?'"** He's God. ** "And he said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'"** I love how Jesus commands her at the end, "Go in peace."
Do you want to know why? She understood her forgiveness, which led to a liberty. She was right vertically with God, which led to a horizontal love to God, and she is free, free indeed. I think of Galatians 5:1, one of my favorite passages. I share it with students all the time. **"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."**
Christ forgave us and freed us at the cross. A lot of us are walking around with a lot of guilt and shame when Christ has already forgiven us. He loves you. Look at how he interacted with this woman. I want to put the definition of _freedom_ up, because I think it's helpful. I know it's helpful for me to see it. It says "The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved." It sounds like some worship songs we sing. "No longer a slave to sin."
We're no longer imprisoned by the Enemy. We have been set free. We are not defined by our sin. You're not defined by your projector screen of sin. You are defined by Christ's righteousness. The end. I want to put up a chart that shows the difference between the Pharisee and his fake religion and then this woman who was forgiven. I'm just going to read it to you guys.
The Pharisee has Jesus in his home. So he has people in his home. She has Jesus in her heart. He degrades Jesus, just calls him a measly teacher. He doesn't call him Savior. She exalts Jesus, sees him as Lord. He judges Jesus' actions. He's the guy in the back, pointing, and she speaks with her actions. Seven verbs in one sentence, loving lavishly toward the Savior.
He shows hostility; she shows hospitality. He responds with grumbling; she responds with gratitude. Just a lavish love. He sees others as sinners. "Look at what _they_ did. Look at _that_ person. I'm not like _them_. At least I'm not like _them_." She sees herself as the chief of sinners, as Paul would say, as the sinner.
He belittles their sin. She acknowledges their sin, owns it, leads from brokenness, shares her story, and lives out that forgiveness to others. I bet you she told everyone this story after this. He is self-righteous; she is Christ-righteous. He is the fake hard-hearted; she is the forgiven and loved. She has been set free.
What's cool about both those charts is that Christ loved them both. He spoke truth to Simon, and he loved that woman despite what she had done. We need to hear that. We need to be reminded of that. Romans 8, for me, is that sweet reminder of liberty. **"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."** Sweetness. No condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
I know, for me, I can get really in my head a lot or I can think, "Here's what it looks like to be a Christian. You have to do _this_, _this_, and _this_." Sometimes I just have to get simple. Here's my simple way of reminding myself. Obviously, the story, sitting at the feet of Jesus… That's a great picture. Mine is just this: love Jesus. What I mean by that is remind myself of the gospel. Remind myself not to get far from him. He is the source. He is the reason.
One of my favorite authors says it like this: "The question is not: How many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show some results? but [just this]: Are you in love with Jesus?" That's the same question God is asking, that _we're_ asking. "Hey, are you in love with Jesus?"
A couple of weeks ago, we got to go away with our Plano staff. I love being on this team of Watermark Plano and just the hearts of the people who serve behind the scenes and love this place and are all about it. We have a lot of fun when we get together, but we also make sure we're encouraging one another and reminding ourselves of the same things I'm saying in this message so we can continue to be the church and love people and care for people.
One of the ways we did encouragement this year is that everyone filled out a form and sent in words that described each of our staff people. I have mine here. The way it worked was the more words that were said about you in certain things were what were bigger on the frame. Here's what my words said: "Leader. Adventurous. Creative. Passionate. High capacity. Energetic." Because I'm a student guy. Right? "Great laughing partner. Excited dad." I love that one.
Those are all great. In fact, all of us have something like this. People would say a lot of great things about us, but here's what I thought as I left. I just go, "I could have all of these things…" A leader, creative… Those are all great things, but at the end of the day, the biggest word, the thing that should cover all of the words, is just _lover of Jesus_. That's the goal. I bet you Simon the Pharisee had one of these, and it was like, "Righteous. Memorized half the Old Testament." None of _us_ have done that, so he's crushing it. Right? Yet he was missing it.
For all of us, whatever your thing says on this, whatever words would describe you, I hope and pray the number-one thing would be _lover of Jesus_, that we would love Christ. The woman showed it. She showed it in her actions. She showed it in this liberty as she washed Jesus' feet, as she took ointment that probably cost up to 50 grand, a year's wages, and she broke it and poured it on his feet because she loved the Savior. She sat there as Jesus taught and rightly worshiped the God of the universe.
My challenge to us, to me, is that we would respond with that kind of crazy love, that we would respond with a heart to love Christ and compel others to know him, that forgiveness is offered to all, that forgiveness leads to love, that we would love out of an overflow of our relationship with God and be on mission, be the church, be the hands and feet of Christ, to love everyone within a 30-foot circle around us, love everybody in it.
Think of the people who would be sitting in this room, if we would be courageous, if we would look at where forgiveness leads us to, that we could love people unashamed. I think I experienced a little bit of this freedom a couple of months back. To be honest, as I share this story, I wish this happened more often, but the truth is a lot of times I _am_ fearful and I _do_ live in my comfort.
I was at LA Fitness across the street. I'm the guy who goes in there and puts my earbuds in. As I got out of the car, I was already picking my Spotify playlist. I'm like, "I'm going to go in. I just want to sweat a little bit, and then I'll leave." That's the kind of workout guy I am. I start walking in, and I have both earbuds in, and there's this lady who walks straight up to me. I can't get around this. The 30-foot circle. She was all up in it.
I ran into her, and we started talking. She handed me this flyer. I pulled one earbud out. We started talking, and then I pulled both out. We started having a conversation. She started telling me, "Hey, this thing is amazing. You have to come. You have to come to this thing." I said, "Okay, that's great. What do you believe about that?" We started having this conversation. I told her what I believed. She told me what she believed, and she just kept saying, "Thank you. Thank you. I love hearing what _you_ believe."
I said the same thing. "Hey, thank you for sharing your beliefs. I love hearing what _you_ believe." We made a deal in the parking lot at LA Fitness, right there. I shook her hand. I said, "Hey, if I come to your Plano meditation class, will you come to church with me on Sunday?" She was like, "Yeah. Done." We shook on it. This was a Wednesday. That Friday comes, and that's when she had invited me. She texted me. We exchanged numbers. She's like, "Hey, you have to come to this intro class."
So I did what anybody would do. I called my friend and didn't tell him anything. I said, "Come over. You're coming with me." He got in the car with me, and I go, "Hey, we're going to this place. I had a conversation, and I think we can love this lady and hear more of her story." So we get in there and we sit on the floor, and for an hour we listen to her share her beliefs behind meditation and why she believes in it.
We got to share the hope of the gospel. We got to share about the forgiveness that has been offered to all. We got to love her and care for her, and then we left. I thought, "Man, I don't know if she's going to show up on Sunday, but that was still worth it." I get a text on Sunday, and she said, "Hey, where do I park?"
She parked over _here_ and was so confused why there were so many people at this place. She walks in at those doors, meets my wife Tara right out there, walks straight in those double doors, and sits right in that section with us at church. I remember watching her, and she worshiped, and she sat there. At meet and greet, Watermark Plano engaged her and loved her and cared about her and talked to her.
I remember she went, "I didn't know there were this many people." She was saying that out there. I was like, "Well, just wait until you come in the main auditorium. There are a lot more." She was just so excited and like, "What is happening?" I share that not because I think I'm knocking it out of the ballpark with engaging people who are outsiders, but I hope that's daily for us.
Not just every six months that happens one time, a one-off, but that when we understand our forgiveness and are unleashed as the church as it should be, the hope of the world, the people going after those who don't look like them, don't come from the same background, maybe look a little creepy, as Bob Goff said… When we love those people, what a picture of God's kindness. What a picture of Jesus who loved Simon and the forgiven woman. Through all this series you're going to see him love people who are far from God.
Let me pray for us. I hope that in this message as you heard… The only response I can think for us, as a church, to do after that is just to respond much like the forgiven woman, which is she worshiped Jesus with oil, with her hair, with her tears. We get to worship as a church, for those who have the hope of Christ, through song and singing to him. So let me pray, and then let's stand and sing together.
Father, thank you that you love us and have given us the freedom to walk with you and that through your cross, which is a perfect picture of your love and kindness to us, you would take on all our sin and free us to be able to believe the truth, that we have your righteousness on us. Lord, thank you for that gift. I pray right now for us, that we would be able to worship you freely, forgiven, fully loved, that we would offer all that we have, which is maybe just raising our hands or singing when we don't normally sing or sitting when we normally stand.
Lord, we want a heart of worship, because we have seen the goodness and kindness of you, and out of that we want to love and we want to worship and we want to be your people. So help us. Help us have stories like LA Fitness. Lord, help me, who has not engaged people well, to grow in that. I pray that our body would double because of the way we love this city, this place. We need you. It's in your beautiful name, amen.