We all want to be loved. We want to be accepted. We want to be received warmly by others. To hear our name. To be valued.
My wife is currently traveling for an extended period to spend quality time with friends and family. One thing that has stood out is witnessing online and hearing from her about the joy that she has had while reuniting with loved ones. Equally impactful is how she has been received so warmly and lovingly. It brings me great joy to know that she is being well taken care of and loved. I miss her terribly and can’t wait for her to be back home safe and reunite as a couple and as a family.
Less than a week after Amy returns, I’ll be traveling solo for business and to visit my sisters and parents. One thing I look forward to is the warm welcomes; those initial moments when you make eye contact and there is no need for words. Loving eyes and big hugs; and yes even many of my work colleagues give big hugs as we are like family.
Typically greetings are influenced by the amount of love, respect and gratitude we have for the other person. We also tend to have “more heart” when the reunion is long overdue, or if the time together is due to the need to grieve together, or if the occasion is related to a much anticipated event.
Next time you see a friend or family member, make a mental note how they received you and how you received them. Did you feel loved? Did they?
In the same way, how do you envision a face-to-face meeting with Jesus?
In today’s reading (Luke 7:36-50) “A Sinful Woman Forgiven” we find two different greetings. One marked by a man who did not even meet the bare minimum courtesy, and a woman who showed great love and adoration. The man judged Jesus and the woman harshly by questioning Jesus’ response to the woman and referring to the woman as a sinner (as though he himself had no sin).
The man’s response had an inward selfish focus. I sense that perhaps he invited Jesus to his home to show off to others and/or to gain favor with Jesus. The woman’s response was selfless. She wept at the feet of Jesus, pouring expensive perfume onto him. She humbled herself to the lowest point. Maybe her tears were a result of guilt or joy as she knew her great debt was paid. Either way, Jesus knew her heart and deemed her to be forgiven.
Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7:47)
I regret sometimes being like the judging man by looking at the sins of others and thinking how awful they are (and of course how much better I am). Or worse, taking for granted the price paid for me to be forgiven. All of my sins, all of your sins. In return, like the woman’s response, he wants our hearts, all in. How would you greet Jesus today?
Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (CS Lewis, Mere Christianity)