Posted by: mikenicholsblog | April 4, 2014

the price is right

What are you most radical about? Without a doubt, most people have something that causes passion, joy and excitement.  Living in Northeast Ohio (where the sun never shines, and it is always cold) has shown me just how passionate people can be about their sports teams.  Several years ago, the beloved Indians sold out 455 games in a row. If your passion is music, people know it. If your passion is sports, others know it. If your passion is Christ, it is obvious.  If you are old enough, you can probably remember the man who always took a prominent place at athletic events with a colorful afro and John 3:16 on a card. His tactics may have been too radical for you and me, but no one could doubt his passion.

This week I have pondered a lady from the Gospels that was, shall I say, radical. Now, I don’t believe that she stood in public places with multi-colored hair, but I do believe that her love for her Lord resulted in a demonstration that we would call radical and maybe even reckless.  Her name was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. She was mentioned rarely in the Gospels. However, the depth of her love for Jesus in anointing Him with expensive perfume was chronicled in three Gospels and is remembered and discussed even today.

At dinner with Jesus, and several others, Mary took a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and broke it. Combining the gospel accounts indicates to us that she anointed His head and His feet.  She anointed and massaged His feet and even wiped them with her hair. Talk about radical; the perfume could have been sold for a year’s wages, and the money given to the poor. To top it off, letting down her hair publicly was something that Jewish women normally wouldn’t do. Loose hair was a sign of loose morals.  The disciples were indignant, and scolded her for what they saw as a wasteful act. But the Savior quickly came to her defense. His words of affirmation concluded with, “I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” (Matthew 26:13)

Ridiculed by others, or affirmed by Jesus … which would you choose? I am afraid that all of us struggle with the acceptance of others, at the expense of being affirmed by Christ.  He may not call you and me to wear colorful afros in public, but He is calling us to be distinctive, and yes, even radical. Reading about Mary this week caused me to reflect on the Steve Green song, Broken and Spilled Out. The words from the first two stanzas reflect what should be the heart cry of every Christ-Follower.

One day a plain village woman
Driven by love for her Lord
Recklessly poured out a valuable essence
Disregarding the scorn
And once it was broken and spilled out
A fragrance filled all the room
Like a prisoner released from his shackles
Like a spirit set free from the tomb

Broken and spilled out
Just for love of you, Jesus
My most precious treasure
Lavished on thee
Broken and spilled out
And poured at your feet
In sweet abandon
Let me be spilled out and used up for Thee

None of us can live yesterday over. We can’t change missed opportunities (and we all have them). Living radically today may come at a cost.  You and I have to determine if the price is worth the affirmation of the Savior. I believe the answer is obvious.


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