Adam looks at Simon and the sinful woman who wept at Jesus feet in Luke 7 as examples of cold and warm hearts. If our hearts have grown cold, we need to warm them back up again by remembering the following: the breadth of God's love, the depth of our sin, the salvation we have been given, and our privilege to "go in peace" and share the opportunity with others.
God Loves Outsiders
Our True Treasure
Why We're Reluctant to Rescue Outsiders
Warming Cold Hearts
Forgiven Much, Loves Much
Jesus Came to Bring the Outsiders In
Good morning, Watermark. My name is Adam Tarnow. I'm excited to be with you guys here this morning. I'll start off with a question. How many baseball fans do we have out there right now? All right. That's good. How many Rangers fans? All right. You guys are about middle of the road. Some of the other services had more, but that's okay. I am a huge Rangers fan and baseball fan. It's just huge in our family right now. We watch a lot of baseball.
I have two young boys. We play a lot of baseball. We're trying to knock out all of the ballparks. We're going to hit our fifth ballpark later next month. So baseball is a big deal in our house. We've been following the Rangers for a while. Since I moved here about 15 years ago I've become a die-hard Rangers fan. There are a few things I've noticed about my life and being a Rangers fan that I wanted to share with you guys to set up where we're going to go.
The first thing I've noticed is that I consistently feel this regret that I did not name my two kids Adrian and Beltre. I think that would have been so cool to do that. He is just such a joy to watch. If you've never watched Adrian Beltre play baseball, you need to do that. He's probably going to retire in a few years. He is a treasure. I want to live my life the way that guy plays baseball, with the excellence and joy he plays that game with. So I find, being a Rangers fan, that I have some regret that I named my kids Jake and Josh, not Adrian and Beltre.
Another thing I have noticed is that one of the most significant or challenging discipleship opportunities I've had as a young parent was this moment when Odor punched Bautista. Yeah, we can clap. That was pretty awesome. I remember that day. It was a Sunday afternoon game, playing the Blue Jays. I remember I was outside with my kids. We were playing baseball in the driveway in our backyard area. I had the game on inside, and we could see through this window what was going on.
We're playing, and I kind of keep looking in at the score. Then I look in, and I just see the benches are cleared. I'm like, "Boys, they're fighting! Come on!" So we go running inside, and we're watching the replay over and over again. My kids are like, "Why did he do that? Why did he punch him?" I'm like, "I don't know, but that is amazing." Then it hits me, where I'm like, "Oh, but violence…violence is not good. When you're mad at somebody, you don't punch them at all."
Then we're watching the replays and I'm like, "Look at those sunglasses. Man, they are flying, and the helmet is going over there. But, again, the way we resolve conflict in this house is you ask forgiveness. Odor should have asked Bautista for forgiveness. They should have downloaded the Conflict Field Guide. There's a whole plan there on how they should have resolved that conflict." So that was a big challenge for me.
Then the third thing I've noticed being a Rangers fan is that my heart is growing increasingly more and more cold toward the Houston Astros. Don't clap, please. I used to not really care. They were just kind of here or there. When they were in the National League I didn't think about them too often. I thought they had cool uniforms back in the 70s and 80s. I remember The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training was at the Astrodome, and I watched that movie a hundred times when I was growing up.
Now that they've moved over to the American League West and are now in the same division as the Rangers, which I think is amazing for baseball… I think these rivalries are great. It is so fun to have a rivalry like that, kind of like in the American League East where you have the Red Sox and the Yankees. So I think it has been great for baseball, but my heart is growing more and more cold as the Astros are getting better and better and better.
I'm noticing that I am starting to rejoice more when they lose than when the Rangers win. I've had a few sports depressions in my life. One of the biggest, though, was last fall when the Astros won the World Series. It was miserable, guys, and I need some empathy. It was just a terrible time, because I was like, "They did it first. They got their World Series before we did." So my heart is growing very, very cold toward Astros and all things Astros.
It's really starting to impact my kids now too. We thought about going out to the Rangers ballpark on July 4, and our kids didn't want to go because they were playing the Astros. They didn't want to go to that game because, like, "I don't want to watch them." I'll buy my kids some baseball cards every once in a while, and a couple of weeks ago I bought them cards. I remember we got home from the card shop, and they sat at the kitchen table. They had all of their cards out and were doing some trading.
Then I come back about an hour later, and all of the cards are off the table except for two. There are two cards left on the table. They're folded and crumpled up and sitting there in the middle of the table. I walked through, and I'm like, "These kids don't value what I purchase for them, and they're not being good stewards of this stuff." I picked up the cards, and they were two Astros. I was like, "God bless them. Of course you don't keep these cards."
I didn't even put them in the recycling. I just threw them away. My heart is wicked. It's cold toward all of those things. I wish I could stand up here this morning and tell you that's the only area in my life where my cold heart impacts the way I love. Unfortunately, it's not. Unfortunately, I have some other areas of my life where I have a cold heart too, and it impacts the way I love.
This area of my life I've noticed is I spend most of my life in a church bubble. Just about everything in my life is within this Christian bubble. I'm on staff here at Watermark, so I'm a professional Christian and hang out with other professional Christians all day every day. All of my coworkers are Christians.
I know where all of the Christians are in my neighborhood, and we interact on a regular basis. We know who the Christians are at my kids' school, and we interact with those parents and those kids on a regular basis. We know who the Christians are on sports teams. It's like all of my friends are Christian, all of my coworkers are Christian, and I am just in this Christian bubble. I've been in this bubble for a long period of time.
Truth be told, I am really comfortable living in the bubble. It is very easy to be in the bubble. It's easy to love other people in the bubble, because, by and large, we all value the same things. We want to parent the same way. We believe the same things. Yeah, maybe there are some differences every once in a while, but it is way easier, I've found, to love people in the bubble than it is to love people outside of the bubble.
What I've noticed is over the years, as I've grown more and more comfortable in the bubble, my heart is growing colder toward those outside of the bubble. In the same way my heart has drifted and grown cold toward Astros things, I have also drifted and my heart has grown cold toward people who are not in the Christian bubble, toward outsiders.
It looks like this. I'm not mean to them or not nice to them or anything like that. I don't wish harm on people who don't live in the bubble, but I'm just really lazy toward them. I don't seek out opportunities to engage with people who are outside the bubble. I don't want to engage in conversations that are going to be a little bit awkward.
I like to talk to people where we believe the same thing and can agree with one another. I don't like engaging in conversations where my worldview is different than your worldview, and now we're kind of arguing and there's disharmony and a little bit of conflict. Those are conversations I don't like, so I just don't want to engage in those. Out of my laziness and desire for comfort, I'm not seeking out those conversations.
By and large, where my heart is… I have developed this coldness where I don't even think people really want to change. If they wanted to change they would come inside the bubble, but if they're not coming inside the bubble that must mean they don't want to change, and I'll just leave them be. My heart has grown cold.
I start with all that this morning because I don't think I'm the only one who struggles with this. In fact, I've had conversations with a lot of you in this room this morning, and I know I'm not the only one whose heart has grown cold toward outsiders. That's one of the reasons I am so excited about this series we started last week. JP kicked us off last week, if you weren't here, in this series called The Outsiders.
Over five weeks, we're going to be looking at five interactions Jesus had in the gospel of Luke with outsiders. JP kicked us off great last week in Luke, chapter 5, and we're going to continue in Luke, chapter 7, today and look at another interaction Jesus had with outsiders. What I hope to have happen as we look at the Scripture this morning is that we are going to see three things that will hopefully warm up our cold hearts toward outsiders.
The reason I think this series is so important and the reason I think today's message is so important is I think a lot of us in the bubble right now have grown so comfortable inside the bubble and are actually bored inside the bubble. I think there are so many of us who are just like me. We're just sitting in here and have gotten comfortable.
We wouldn't tell anybody we are a little bit bored, and we certainly wouldn't put it on our 4B, and we wouldn't write on the perforated section of the Watermark News, "Hey, I'm bored," but the fact of the matter is there are a lot of us in here who know exactly how to play the Christian game now.
You've been in the bubble long enough you know how to answer all of the questions. You have the vocabulary. You know how to be in a Community Group. You know how to confess sin. You know how to talk about your marriage a little bit. You know how to talk about your parenting a little bit. You know how to do all of that.
You look at your life and you're like, "Hey, my marriage is fine. It could be a little bit better. It's not as good as it could be, but it's not as bad as some other people I know of. It's just fine. My relationship with my kids is fine. I know it could be better, but it's not that bad. My relationship with other people in my family…it's just fine right now."
You're just fine with everything being fine, but you lay your head down at night and wake up in the morning and you know that, truth be told, you're just bored. You're not excited. There's nothing in you. You're like, "I don't have many of those 'I cannot believe that just happened' kind of moments following after Jesus."
If that's you, if you're in here today and you're bored, I think this message is so important, because you need to hear that the boring Christian life is so far from what God wants for you and me. Jesus didn't die so you and I could just be in the bubble and be comfortable and be bored. Jesus did not go to the cross and die and get buried and rise again so you and I could be bored in the bubble.
If our hearts have grown cold and we're really comfortable being bored in this little controllable bubble with a bunch of people who think and act just like us, then we need our hearts warmed up. We're going to be in Luke, chapter 7, and hopefully, as we go through this, we're going to be reminded of three truths that I hope will warm up our hearts, warm up mine and warm up yours.
Here's the scene. There are going to be three primary people we're going to see in this text this morning. You're going to have Jesus, and then you're going to have this man named Simon. This man named Simon is wealthy. He is educated. He is a Pharisee. He is kind of a religious professional. He's a do-gooder. He's kind of a pastor of the day. He's wealthy, he's educated, and he is righteous. He does a lot of good deeds. He is an insider.
So, Simon, this Pharisee, is going to be there, Jesus is going to be there, and then there's going to be this woman who shows up. All that Luke tells us about this woman is that she is a sinful woman. Simon knows she's a sinful woman, as we are going to see. It's not too far of a stretch to believe this woman was most likely a prostitute.
So here's the scene. You have Jesus, you have this well-educated, wealthy, righteous do-gooder, and then you have a prostitute who probably wasn't wealthy, probably not educated. That's the scene: Jesus, the Pharisee, the prostitute. It sounds like a joke almost. Right? Like this is the start of a joke or a really, really good reality TV show or something like that. We're going to watch what's going to happen. This is going to be an amazing interaction we're going to see.
What Luke is doing as he's recording this scene is comparing and contrasting the woman and Simon the Pharisee. Simon has a cold heart, but this woman's affections… Her heart toward Jesus is really warm. He's going to compare and contrast, and we're going to see three things in here that we need to be reminded of that will hopefully warm up our hearts to be more like hers. If you have your Bibles, here we go. Luke, chapter 7. We're going to be in verses 36-50.
"When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume." She came with this really expensive perfume. ** "As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them."**
It was customary at some of these banquets for outsiders, uninvited guests, to show up. It wasn't completely unusual. She, probably an uninvited guest, showed up here, and all she really had access to, because of the way they were sitting around this kind of picnic blanket thing… The men were probably all reclining. The only thing she really had access to with Jesus was his feet.
She had this private moment with Jesus, and she was so overwhelmed and overcome with emotion she started to cry. Her tears were on his feet, and she wiped his feet with her hair, and she put the perfume on his feet. This is all going down, and Simon is watching this. Now Luke is recording some of the thoughts Simon the Pharisee had. Look in verse 39.
"When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this…" When Simon saw this was going down, that this woman was treating Jesus this way. "…he said to himself, 'If this man were a prophet [if he were somebody of God] , he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.'" You can kind of get this picture in your mind. We can kind of understand or imagine what this would be like.
Just imagine if you had your favorite celebrity over for dinner at your house. Maybe it's a sports star, an actor, an author, a politician, or somebody like that, one of your favorite celebrities or somebody you wanted to meet really badly. You got to have a meal with them. You got to invite them over, and they accepted the invitation, and they were going to show up, and you were going to bring all of your friends over.
So you were having this great party and having this conversation, and everything was going great. Then that neighbor showed up. Do you guys know that neighbor? The one who lives down the street and never mows their grass. When they're out, you kind of bring your kids back in. You're like, "We like them. We don't know who that person is, so when they come out let's come inside." Do you guys know that neighbor? Maybe for you it's not a neighbor. Maybe for you it's the uncle or the brother or the sister or something like that. Anyway, we all have these people.
Imagine you have this party, and the celebrity is there, and then this uninvited guest shows up, and they start kissing on their feet and crying and pouring perfume. I mean, you would be sitting there, and you probably would be shocked and a little bit embarrassed like Simon was. Simon was shocked and embarrassed that this woman had come in and was treating Jesus this way. Part of the reason he was shocked and embarrassed was Simon was an insider.
Simon was the professional. He was living in the bubble, and this woman was an outsider. He could not believe Jesus was allowing this outsider to treat him this way. He couldn't believe Jesus was interacting with the outsider in this way, because Simon was a good Pharisee. He drew lines. He said, "I'm not going to go that far. We wouldn't be around sinners this way." Simon had lost sight of the breadth of God's love. Jesus had never lost sight of that.
Jesus, being God, knew he came not just to love certain ones but to love everyone, because God loves everyone; he doesn't love just certain ones. Simon had lost sight of that, and his heart had grown cold because he forgot God loves everyone, not just certain ones. So, if our hearts are cold toward outsiders like Simon's, the first thing we need to be reminded of is…
1._ The breadth of God's love_. We need to be reminded that God loves everyone, not just certain ones. I can't think of a time in our history that needs this message more than right now. If you think about our culture right now, there is more divisiveness and outrage than any other time I can remember living in or any other time I can remember reading about.
Nowadays, everybody is drawing lines and going, "Here's what I believe, and if you believe something different, you're wrong. If you believe something different, you're not just wrong; I'm outraged and mad that you don't believe what I believe." There's all this divisiveness. "I'm mad that you believe something different, and I think I'm better than you." There's all this divisiveness out there right now.
In fact, Slate.com, this online magazine, declared 2014, four years ago, to be the Year of Outrage. They had noticed through 2014 all of this bubbling up in the culture, that everybody had something they were angry about and felt so justified and righteous in their anger. People were drawing lines and going, "Here's who I am, and if you're different than that then I'm better than you, and you can't tell me I can't do this." Everybody was outraged and everybody was mad.
If you go to their website and look, it's still up there. You would see this image. This is what it would look like. All of those little boxes represent one day in that year. It's an amazing time waste, if you're looking just to waste some time. Just start clicking on those things and reading what people were outraged about that day.
For instance, if you went to March 2, you would click on it, and this little screen would pop up, and it would remind you that everybody was frustrated that John Travolta mispronounced somebody's name at the Oscars. That's what everybody was so mad about. "I can't believe how insensitive he was. I can't believe he didn't prepare."
Then you go and click on September 27, and you'll realize that day everybody was outraged because the new iPhone 6 Plus would sometimes bend if you put it in your pocket and sat down. Some of you in this room are probably still mad about that because it happened to you. The lines were being drawn. "I'm a Samsung person." "I'm an Apple person. They're going to fix it."
Then you go and get on November 6, and you'll realize everybody was outraged that day because a mom found mold in a Capri Sun she gave to her child. Everybody was freaking out over that. There are some other ones where you'll be like, "Hey, this day everybody was outraged because some celebrity said this, and this day everybody was upset because Obama said this or Obama didn't say that or this politician said this or this politician didn't say that."
You read through it, and I bet you'll have the same feeling I had as I went through and looked at this four years later. I'm like, "You know what? Most of the stuff we were outraged by is petty. It's silly." Things have not gotten better in the last four years. Things have gotten worse. Imagine what it would look like today in 2018. Imagine all of the things that would be in those little squares now.
Imagine all of the things we get outraged by nowadays. Imagine all of the political things. "The Republicans said this" or "Trump said that" or "The Republicans didn't say that" or "The Democrats said this," and "Here's what I believe about immigration, and there's what you believe about immigration," and this with gay rights and that with gay rights, and all of the things.
There are some really serious things where people are drawing lines and saying, "Here's who I am, and if you're different, I'm better than you and we can't get along. I'm outraged that you believe something different," and it has not gotten any better. There is more divisiveness and outrage in our culture now than just about any other time.
You may be sitting there going, "Listen, man. Those things don't outrage me. I get that people have different worldviews. I'm more tolerant of that kind of stuff. I don't draw lines. I don't think I'm better than anybody else." I'm just going, "I think you do." It doesn't have to just be serious things. We do it with silly things too.
Think about your office. "Our department is better than the other departments. We're sales. We drive sales. We're better than accounting. They only count stuff." You do it in your offices. You do it with your hobbies. "I'm a golfer. I'm not a tennis player." You want to see some outrage and divisiveness when it comes to hobbies? Wake up early one Saturday morning and go down to White Rock Lake and watch the cyclists and runners. They have drawn lines.
The runners know who's on the inside. They know who's in their bubble, and they think they're better than the cyclists. They're like, "We're better. We have these cool shoes, and we don't have to wear a helmet for when we fall down. We don't die." The cyclists are like, "Whatever. We're better. We go faster. We wear tights." They're just fighting all the time down there. We do this with our hobbies.
I would like to sit up here and go, "I'm above all of that. I'm a professional Christian. I don't judge. I don't think I'm better than anybody. My heart doesn't do that." Then I was just reminded… My wife and I this year decided to bless our boys and buy season passes to Six Flags. We go and ride rides and stand in the lines, and I sit in those lines, and to my great shame, I realized I do this too.
I sit in the lines and I'm going, "If that person followed Jesus, they wouldn't talk that way. If that person followed Jesus, I can't believe they would dress that way. I can't believe they would get that tattoo." I just sit there, and I find that sometimes I think I'm better. I'm just judging people. There's this divisiveness and outrage out there.
Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection… The fact that Jesus died for our sins means we no longer have to draw lines. In fact, I'll go so far as to say if you claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, it is incompatible with the gospel to have enemies. If there is any group of people you think doesn't deserve your love, if there's any group of people you willfully are not showing love to, that means you really don't understand the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Christian worldview is the only worldview that has a viable solution to the divisiveness and outrage in our culture right now. The Christian worldview is the only worldview that has a Savior who died for his enemies and prayed for their forgiveness. The solution to all the divisiveness and "I think I'm better than you" or "Because we're different we can't be friends" is Jesus, who died for enemies and prayed for their forgiveness.
So, if we claim to follow Jesus and we have people we think we're better than, people we're willfully holding our love from, at best we're confused and need this reminder. At worst, we aren't following Jesus at all. So, if our hearts are cold toward outsiders, like Simon's heart was cold toward outsiders, we need to be reminded of the breadth of God's love.
The story keeps going. Let's jump back in. Simon had these thoughts. "If this man were a prophet, if he were somebody of God…" Jesus is about to scoreboard him a little bit. I love this section of this story, because Jesus is about to show you, "Hey, I'm not just a prophet; I'm God. Do you want to know why? Because I know what you were just thinking. I've read your thoughts, Simon."
Verse 40: "Jesus answered him, 'Simon, I have something to tell you.' 'Tell me, teacher,' he said." Now Jesus tells the story. "Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii…" A denarius is basically a day's wage, so somebody owed almost two years' wages. ** "…and the other fifty."** So, maybe two months worth of wages. Both of these people were in debt.
"'Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he [the debtor] forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?' Simon replied, 'I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.' 'You have judged correctly,' Jesus said." Now it gets good. He has Simon's attention, and all of those other people who were sitting around that blanket or table were probably watching. Now Jesus is really going to go after Simon. Look at this. Verse 44:
"Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, 'Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.'"
Jesus is making it very clear what he's doing right now. He is comparing Simon and this woman. He's saying, "Hey, you're shocked by the way this woman is treating me and that I'm interacting with her in this way. Let me tell you exactly why this woman is treating me this way. Her heart is not cold like yours, Simon, because she understands she has been given a gift. She understands she had a debt she could not pay, and she understands I forgave that debt.
All of these actions, her emotion toward me, her wiping of my feet, her anointing my feet… That's not anything she has done to earn my love. That's evidence that she knows she has been forgiven. That is a response to my love. She knows she has been given a gift, and it is producing this in her. You don't think you've been given a gift. You think you've earned something, so it's producing this response in you." If our hearts are cold toward outsiders, the second thing we need to be reminded of is…
2._ The depth of our sin_. Simon didn't think he needed to be forgiven much, so he wasn't loving much. This woman knew she needed to be forgiven much, so she was loving much. We all can identify with this. We know there's a different emotional reaction you feel to a gift you've been given versus something you feel like you've earned.
My wife and I saw this again in our family recently around dinner and dessert. My wife and I both have a huge sweet tooth. We would eat dessert after every meal if we could, because we are Americans and because we have survived the great Blue Bell crisis of 2015. We never want to experience that again. We'll go through these seasons where we're more disciplined with dessert and less disciplined with dessert.
We had just come off a season where we were being more disciplined with dessert and going into a season where we were like, "Who cares? Let's just eat it after every meal." I remember when this season started. We'd finish up dinner and give the boys some dessert, and they were so excited. They were like, "I can't believe we get cookies tonight" or "I can't believe we get ice cream tonight. It's a Tuesday. We did nothing to deserve this." They were so grateful.
After a few weeks, their hearts started to change a little bit. They were like, "Oh, what's for dessert tonight?" We'd give it to them, and there were no "thank yous." They would just wolf it down and maybe ask for more, and we'd say "No." Their hearts had kind of drifted a little bit more a couple of weeks later, where now the dessert had become this negotiating tool.
We'd put the dinner down in front of them, and they were like, "Okra. What's for dessert tonight? I want to see how this transaction is going to go. Oreo? How many Oreos do I get? Four? How about five? I'll eat all of those if I get five Oreos." We played into this. We were like, "Okay," and we negotiated with them, and they felt like they could earn it.
A couple of days go by, and my wife and I are like, "This just doesn't feel fun anymore giving them this." I remember sitting in a meeting with Todd Wagner (if you're new here, Todd is the senior pastor here at Watermark). I don't even remember what the context was, but Todd did something he does so well. He just puts these pithy statements out there that are mind-blowing.
He did this in one of these meetings where he said something to the effect of, "You can't give to people what they've already taken from you." I remember hearing that, and I was like, "That is amazing, and that's what's going on in my house right now. I can't give dessert to my kids anymore because they've already taken it. They feel like they deserve it. They feel like they've earned it. 'We ate that food. Give us the ice cream.'"
So I went home and told Jackie, "Todd said something amazing, and we need to apply it. You know what's going on? It's because they've already taken it and they feel like they've earned it, so tonight, no dessert." She was like, "Okay." So we got ready for dinner, and I put on a bunch of catcher's gear. We sit down at the table, and they go through their dinner. Then they're like, "What's for dessert?" I was like, "Yeah, speaking of dessert, guess what. There's none tonight."
It was that moment I'm sure you can imagine. The forks drop, and the third grader is like, "Hold on. I ate and I've earned. What do you mean?" He starts laying into us. The first grader, out of the corner of my eye… I'm certain his head spun completely around. They had this reaction, and we just talked them through it. "Hey, you guys were getting entitled. You don't deserve it. It's something we give to you." Now we're in a good season, and hopefully we'll stay here for a while.
I can't blame my boys for that. We know that's true. We know this happens. There is a different emotional reaction when you feel like you have earned something versus when you've been given something. You feel different when you are given a gift on your birthday than when you get a paycheck on Friday. That feels different. One you earned, and the other you didn't earn at all. It was a gift that was given to you.
If our hearts have grown cold, we just need to remember the depth of our sin. The way we do that is constantly remind ourselves over and over and over again, as often as we can, of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope we remind you of that every weekend here at Watermark. We cannot remind ourselves enough of the fact that if we are followers of Jesus Christ we did nothing to earn that.
It's not because we're good. We, too, had a debt. Our sin created a separation between God and us, and this debt was far more than a year's worth of wages. This debt could not be paid back, and God loved us so much he sent Jesus as payment for that debt. He died on the cross, was buried, and rose again, and now we know it's true. It's true he took our payment on our behalf, and now we are forgiven.
When we understand our salvation was not something that was earned by us but something that was offered to us, when we understand it's a gift, it should be producing this emotional reaction in us that is very similar to this woman's. "I cannot believe we've been given this." But if we think we've earned it, we're not going to have the emotional reaction like hers. We're going to have a cold heart like Simon's.
We need to remember the gospel as often as we can, and we need to remind ourselves of the depth of our own sin. The way we do that is spend as much time as we possibly can with Jesus Christ. I don't know if you guys have noticed this. I've noticed this in my life. I've been walking with Jesus for almost 22 years, and by the grace of God I've been able to have older men in my life throughout all those 22 years who have been discipling me and encouraging me and teaching me God's Word.
The one thing I've noticed with the people who are older than me who are still following after Jesus and still in the game is they talk about their sin in a way I don't talk about my sin. The more they've been walking with Jesus, they still talk about their sin as, "I cannot believe how much I still need to let Jesus rule and reign in my life."
I'm sitting there, and I'm kind of surprised by that, because I compare my life to their life, and I'm like, "I bet you don't think what I think. I bet you don't say what I say. I bet you're not tempted by what I'm tempted by." I compare myself to them and think there's a lot less sin in their life compared to mine, but because they're consistently spending time with Jesus, they're not comparing themselves to their friends. They're not comparing themselves to their Community Group or to the culture.
They're comparing themselves to Christ, to perfection. The more time they spend with Jesus the softer their hearts remain. They still understand they have been given a gift, because there's a depth of their sin that still remains front and center in their lives. Their hearts are warm. They're more like the woman than they are like Simon. So, if our hearts have grown cold, we need to remember the breadth of God's love and the depth of our sin.
You guys have probably heard this old quote. Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread. We need to remember Christianity is not one beggar telling another beggar, "I worked for this bread, and you need to work for it too." That's not what it is. You understand we've been forgiven. It produces something in us. We need to remember the breadth of his love and the depth of our sin. Let's see how this wraps up.
This whole interaction went down, and now Jesus looks to the woman, and here's what he says in verse 48: "Then Jesus said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.' The other guests began to say among themselves, 'Who is this who even forgives sins?' Jesus said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'" Jesus had most likely had an interaction with this woman before. He wasn't telling her anything new.He wasn't saying, "Hey, because you came in here and behaved this way, now your sins are forgiven. You just earned it."
What he was doing was giving her another gift.The gift he was giving her in this interaction was the gift of saying, "Hey, I'm going to declare your new identity to you in front of all of these religious do-gooders. They all know your reputation. You're the sinful woman. You're the one who's uneducated and poor. You're out there, and they know you as a sinner. What I'm reminding you in front of them is you are a new person.
Your sins have been forgiven. You now get to go in peace. You now have a new mission in life. You don't have to go around and do what you are currently doing. Now you have a new job description. You get to now go in peace. Now because you have peace with God you can go tell others they, too, can have peace with God." If our hearts have grown cold toward outsiders, we need to be reminded…
3._ It is our privilege to go in peace_. To go in peace is to remember that you now have peace with God because of Jesus. To go in peace is to live out Matthew 5:9: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." It's to live out 2 Corinthians 5:18, that we now have the ministry of reconciliation. To go in peace means now you and I have the opportunity to go tell other people they, too, can be forgiven.
It's our opportunity; it is not our obligation. We get to do this stuff now. We don't have to do this. As I've been thinking about this last point over the past few weeks, I've had this overwhelming thought that keeps coming back into my mind. The thought is that one of the worst words in the English language is the word should. The word should creates this idea of obligation and discipline and willpower and stuff that's not fun.
Should is like the kale of the English language. It doesn't matter if you eat it raw or in a salad with dressing or put it in a smoothie or fry it and try to call it a chip. No matter what you do it's disgusting because it's kale. The word should is the exact same way. It doesn't matter how you try to sugarcoat it or what you try to do with it. It still brings about this idea of obligation and "have to" and falling short and never good enough.
Jesus Christ set us free from a lot of things, and one of the things he set us free from is the word should. Hear this: you don't have to do anything. If you believe Jesus died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose again, then you don't have to do anything. You don't have to come to church. You don't have to be in a Community Group. You don't have to commune with other believers. You don't have to share your gospel. You don't have to give your money away. You don't have to do anything because you don't earn this relationship with Jesus.
As followers of Jesus Christ, you don't have to; you get to. You get to do all that. You get to come to church and be reminded of God's great love. You get to commune with other believers. You get to share the resources he has entrusted to you. You get to do all of this stuff. Life is not about "have to." Life is about now we get to do all of that. It's not about an obligation; it's about the opportunity we have now because we've been set free. It's amazing.
So, if our hearts have grown cold, we need to remember the breadth of God's love, the depth of our sin and the gift we've been given, and we need to remember it is our privilege to now live this mission. We now have this opportunity to go and live as a peacemaker. I'll close with this one last illustration.
As I was trying to think of somebody I know who lives out these principles so well, one person immediately came to mind. It's a person I know who I'm sure many of you in this room know. It's my friend John Elmore. John Elmore serves on staff here. He leads the re:generation ministry. He leads our community ministry.
I admire so much about John Elmore. One of the things I admire about John is he is one of those guys who treats everybody the exact same way. Have you ever met people like that? It doesn't matter if he is talking to somebody completely different than him or somebody really similar to him. He treats everyone the exact same way. I admire that so much about John.
John lives the "get to" life. He doesn't live a "have to" kind of life. I've heard stories about and watched the way he interacts with people, the way he interacts with his neighbors. I've watched him at restaurants and coffee shops, and I've seen the way he interacts. I admire it. He lives all of this stuff out.
The other day, John McGee and I were recording a podcast with John Elmore. We're in the podcast studio, and he comes in, and he's just beaming. He just has this smile on his face. We're like, "What's going on?" He's like, "You are not going to believe what just happened." We're like, "What just happened? Tell us."
He goes, "Have you ever gotten one of those phone calls where they tell you they're from the FBI and they have all of these allegations against you and that if you don't call them back the cops are going to come and take you away?" McGee and I are like, "Yeah, we've heard about those." He goes, "I got one of those calls, and I called them back." I was like, "Of course you did, John. That's what you do."
He goes, "I recorded the phone call, and it's 30 minutes." He gave me the recording, and I listened to it. It's an amazing phone call. He recorded it, truth be told, because he thought, "Maybe in here there's going to be a good illustration I can use at re:gen one day about how sin tries to rip you off like these people are trying to rip you off."
The conversation started off where he gave him his name, and then the guy on the phone was like, "Can I please have your zip code?" John is like, "I'm not comfortable giving you my zip code. Can you tell me these allegations? I'm really scared that the cops are going to come get me." The guy is like, "Well, give me your zip code."
He's like, "No, I don't want to give you that. Is it the drinking and driving I've done?" The guy is like, "No, it's not the drinking and driving you've done. Will you give me your zip code?" John is like, "No, I'm not going to give you my zip code. Is it the strip clubs I've been to?" The guy is getting a little flustered. He's like, "No, it's not that. Will you just give me your zip code, and I'll tell you the allegations."
John is like, "I'm not going to do that. Is it the breaking and entering I've done?" The guy is like, "No, it's not the breaking and entering. Just give me your zip code." John is like, "I'm not comfortable giving you my zip code." Well, now the guy wants to get off the phone. He's like, "All right. I'm done. I want to get off the phone."
John is like, "That's fine. You can get off the phone, but I just want to tell you one thing. I want to tell you that what you're doing is evil. You are trying to rip people off, and that is not okay. You are going to face judgment one day. All of those things I've told you about drinking and driving and strip clubs and breaking and entering… I've done all of those.
I was an evil man. I was a wretch. My life was lost, and then I found Jesus Christ. You sound like you're lost right now, and you need to repent of what you're doing and come to know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. I've been forgiven, and you can be forgiven too." He shares the gospel with this guy and asks, "Hey, have you ever heard this story before?" The guy says, "Yeah, I'm a Christian."
The whole phone call changed. Come to find out this guy lives in northern India. Some missionaries from America had come over into his town and shared the gospel with him, and he had become a Christian, his brother had become a Christian, and his father had become a Christian. His heart had drifted, and he was looking for work, and this was a job. He felt some tension with it, but he didn't know what else to do.
For the next 20 minutes, John was just sharing Scripture with this guy, encouraging him to try to find a new job. At the end of the phone call, the guy was like, "I feel like crying right now. Will you please pray for me?" These two brothers on opposite sides of the world… He prayed for his brother and encouraged him.
He's telling this story, and I'm like, "John, of course this happens to you." Of course. John lives a "get to" kind of life. He understands that God loves everyone and not just certain ones. He understands the breadth of God's love, and that keeps his heart warm toward those who are far from God. If you spend any time with him, he will tell you he understands he has been forgiven a debt he could not pay back, and that keeps his heart warm toward outsiders.
John understands he is under no obligation to do any of it. He doesn't have to do any of it; he gets to. John's life is full of "I cannot believe that just happened" moments. It's anything but the boring life that's found in the bubble for so many of us. Do you know what Dallas needs? Dallas needs more John Elmores. Dallas needs more people like this woman who understand the breadth, the depth, and the privilege. Let me pray that we will be people like that.
God, we thank you for Jesus, and we thank you that we can be forgiven of our sins. We thank you that we are not without hope. We thank you, God, that you are not a God who draws lines, that you have extended your love to us, wretched sinners, where our hearts drift. We thank you, God, that you have paid our debts we could not pay, and we thank you, God, that now our lives have meaning, that we don't have to live this boring life.
We can live a life as a peacemaker, telling others they, too, can have peace with you. We just say "thank you" for all of it. Will you please help us to repent of our cold hearts? May we see others the way this woman saw others, the way Jesus saw others, the way our friend John sees others. May we live like that. We ask this in Jesus' name, amen.
Have you ever felt like an outsider? Like everyone else around you knew someone else and you were all alone? Take heart, Christ came to earth for the outsiders!