Posted by: mikenicholsblog | July 16, 2017

the joy of being radical for Christ

Not much that happened 42 years ago in the summer of 1975 remains in my conscious memory. Oh … except for one event! On one particular Sunday, I showed an outrageous bit of youthful enthusiasm combined with a bit of immature logic. While working for my home church during summer break, I wanted to motivate some children. They were given a goal, and once it was accomplished I willingly bit a goldfish in half and swallowed it (yuck!). Please don’t think I’m crazy, because at age 62, it also sounds sickening to me (I still blow great bubbles). My intentions were noble in working for the Lord, but a more mature me would never have done something like that! Although it was completely impulsive and only happened once, a friend remembered it almost four decades later! Just yesterday, I was looking at a special anointing from Matthew 26 that, in a small way, reminds me of my youthful energy.

You, too, have probably read the story and know of Mary’s (sister of Martha) devotion. The scene was in Bethany as Christ was nearing the time he would willingly submit to the cross. There were several people gathered at the home of a man named Simon the Leper where Jesus was eating. A woman approached him with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head. You can imagine the response. The disciples were indignant! This perfume was highly valuable and could have been used to help the poor. One account of the story explains that the perfume could have been sold for more than a year’s wages!

Her impulsive act was surely out of the norm but was uniquely honored by Christ. You and I would have likely aligned ourselves with the indignant disciples and rebuked her. We would have thought of the value of the perfume and missed its divine significance. But Christ didn’t miss the beauty of her devotion. We pick up the story in Matthew 26:10.

Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing for me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured out this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

I don’t understand the full depth of this passage, but this woman was symbolically preparing Jesus’ body for burial. Her act of devotion was not casual; it was expensive and sacrificial. None of us reading the story of this event centuries later would classify her gift as wasteful. But in the moment, the disciples did! Christ, however, never classifies giving our best for Him as a waste. In fact, look at her legacy: I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her. And it still lives on today!

Eating goldfish doesn’t appeal to me today. But I can’t remember much else from that summer 42 years ago. With youthful enthusiasm, I did the unthinkable. By sacrificing expensive perfume, Mary did the unimaginable! My stunt is remembered as a silly act. Her’s is remembered with eternal significance. Could it be that in our desire to be mature and logical, we have lost the joy of being radical for Christ?

Sometimes I miss the spiritual spark of my youth, and maybe you do too. This week, if the Father places you in a position to stand out for Him (even if it is radical), do it! It may just add to your spiritual legacy…. I just wouldn’t recommend the goldfish!


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