Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Did We Leave This Out? - Reflections on Jesus' Anointing: Part 3

Mark 14.9 (see also Matthew 26.13) ends the Gospel's story about Jesus being anointed by the woman with very costly perfume with this -

"Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her" (NRSV).

Waiting tables for several years has afforded me the wonderful opportunity of not receiving tips for my work, but gospel tracts instead.   Tracts are those brochures you get on college campuses and subway stations that remind you why you cringe at the word "repent".  I used to have quite the collection, and to be honest, many were quite creative.  All of them however, made me simultaneously giggle and feel ashamed to be part of a religion associated with people who pushed the "good" out of the Good News.

In Matthew and Mark, the stories of Jesus' anointing end with Jesus telling everyone that what the woman has done will be told wherever the gospel is proclaimed.  What will be told of her along with the Good News is how she humbled herself before the King in a manner from which her heart lead her, not how well she followed the particular rules of a religion.  And - If our attempts to get anyone to embrace the Gospel (good news) comes with any strings attached that are man-made rules, then we're not spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ, we're making our own religions in the name of Jesus while leaving out what he actually taught.  This is why the Pharisees always butted heads with Jesus.  Their lives were wrapped around a religion with rules that didn't affect their heart in anyway.  "Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness" - Jesus in Luke 11.39 (NRSV).

Religious rules don't matter to Jesus.  There's no such thing as a "good" Christian.  Jesus doesn't care what we wear on Sunday mornings (shout out to my friend Ann Lantz), nor does he really mind if we sleep in on Sunday mornings (granted there's some Sabbath in your life).  He isn't concerned whether or not we can recite creeds, or if we memorize Bible verses.  God doesn't care if we wear Christian clothing or listen to Christian music.

He cares about where our hearts are and what our intentions are.  He cares how we make decisions, and why we do anything we do.  God cares about how we view and treat ourselves and others.  And he cares deeply about our devotion to him over all other potential gods (which includes religion).

An important aspect of the Good News is that God loves us for who we really are.  Not who we're told we should pretend to be.

So where are you?

Do you live out the Gospel, individually or communally in a manner that reminds people of what this woman did?

Do you proclaim the Good News of Jesus with her in mind?

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