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I've Been Simon

Luke 7 tells a story I have always loved. It is that of a woman - "sinful" and uninvited - entering a home of a Pharisee, a home into which she was not welcome - for one sole purpose: to wash the feet of Jesus.

Reaching him, she knelt - not in front of him, oh no. She was unworthy of such a gift. She knew who she was, what she had done. It was no secret that she should not be here, that even the servants were more deserving of a seat at the table than her. So, instead, she knelt behind him.

And she wept.

Oh, how she wept.

Her tears free-flowing became the water that would cleanse the day's grime from his feet, her hair the towel that would dry them, her alabaster jar of perfume - expensive and costly - the fragrance that filled the room as she emptied its contents on his feet.

And she did it all as eyes watched in disbelief...and many in disgust.

None more than Simon, the host of the gathering.

He thinks to himself, “If Jesus were a prophet, he would know that the woman touching him is a sinner (Lk. 7:39)!"

And Jesus - who knows the thoughts and intents of our very hearts - responds, “Oh, Simon. I have something to say to you."

Jesus goes on to tell Simon a story of a debt forgiven and culminates his speech with these words:

"44 Jesus turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I came into your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss of greeting, but she has been kissing my feet since I came in. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she poured perfume on my feet. 47 I tell you that her many sins are forgiven, so she showed great love. But the person who is forgiven only a little will love only a little.”

I have heard this story many times. I have taught from it. I have been challenged by it. I always imagine myself in the shoes of the uninvited woman with her alabaster jar. But about three years ago, God had me try on another pair of shoes as I read the story again - this time the shoes belonged to Simon.

Simon - the Pharisee, the well-educated, well-respected religious leader.

Simon - the teacher of the ancient scrolls, the carrier of vast Biblical knowledge.

Simon - the one who invited Jesus to his table...but never even offered to wash his feet.

Simon - the one who sat in the presence of Jesus, but had somehow forgot what a privilege that was.

Sadly, I had to admit: I had been a Simon. I grew up in church, napped on the first pew, saw God do amazing things. I knew the Bible from a young age - could quote scripture until the cows came home (and keep going if they didn't). And somewhere along the way...

I had lost my wonder.

His presence had become NORMAL to me.

I had forgot: Being with Him was a privilege.

I had stopped being grateful for it.

I had stopped being humbled by it.

Somewhere along the way...I had become a Simon.

The days following this heart-convicting reality check - I sat at the keyboard and wrote the simplest and yet one of the dearest-to-me songs I have ever written. The chorus is one line:

I stand before a holy God.

And as I sang it over and over and over again, I could feel my posture shifting once again to a kneeling position as Simon's shoes began to grow tight on my feet.

"I don't take it lightly. I don't see it as a small thing." I sang.

"Your presence is a treasure."

"And the only response is crying Holy!"

I want to encourage you today to pause and take a good, hard look at where you fit within this story. Are you the uninvited dinner guest? Or are you a little more like Simon?

Somewhere along the way, has the privilege of His presence begun to feel...normal? Expected?


Have you lost your wonder?

Your gratitude?

If you have, can I encourage you to do 4 things this week:

  1. Return to the Gospel. Jesus purchased the way for you and I to come into the presence of God with His own blood. He literally gave His life so we could come close. Open your Bible. Reread the Gospel Story - Matthew, Mark, Luke, John - and return to it again and again and again. While were were yet sinners, Christ died. His love and grace should be our undoing.

  2. Soak in the Psalms. Open up to a Psalm about the greatest, goodness, and power of God and then soak in it. Don't hurry through it. Ponder each phrase. Imagine it. "His voice thunders..." Picture it. Take it in. Ask the Lord to renew your sense of wonder.

  3. Take a Walk. No podcast. No music. Just you, Jesus, and the sound of the birds chirping, the crunch of leaves under your feet, the feeling of the wind whispering across your cheek...absorb and acknowledge all God made with the breath of His mouth...and revel in this reality: this great, powerful Creator God welcomes you close. He invites you into a relationship.

  4. Write out Your Testimony. My dad always tells his congregation to "feast on God's faithfulness." He wants us to look back and remember all God has done. I don't think we do that enough. John 4 says we love the one who first loved us. This is the heartbeat of true worship. It's - simply put - loving Him back. This is what the uninvited woman did in Luke 7. Worship comes from a place of gratitude. The two to be pure and genuine must walk hand in hand. Write our your story. Remember what God has done. And then thank Him.

These may not seem the most profound set of instructions, but I can promise you that I am proof they work.

Church kids, Worship Leaders, Followers of Jesus - Don't lose your wonder. Although His presence is a reality in our "everyday" life as believers - there is nothing "ordinary" about it.

Keep returning to the Gospel. Ponder the Psalms. Carve out time to look up and see all He has created. Cultivate gratitude.

And remember...

Always remember...

He is worthy of it all.


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