I grew up in the faith feeling both an obligation to serve the Lord and an obligation to make sure everyone who I came in contact with understood the same obligation.
I remember hearing a preacher once say our have to should turn into a want to. Once a person becomes a believer in Christ, the things they felt like they had to do should now become things that they want to do. The problem was they never explained how that was supposed to happen.
It wasn’t until I began to truly understand the message of the gospel that I realized what it meant to move from the have to toward the want to. It’s not an issue of obligation it is an issue of learning to live in adoration.
Jesus tells a story in Luke 7:36-50 of a Pharisee that invited Him over to eat at his house. It was customary for a Pharisee to invite a visiting rabbi over to his home to eat with him. It was his obligation. While there a woman finds out that Jesus is in town and at the house of the Pharisee.
Most commentators believe this was the same woman who Jesus rescued from death by the Pharisees because she was caught in adultery. This woman spends a year and a half of wages on a jar of perfume and anoints Jesus feet with the perfume and her hair. The Pharisee was put out with this scene and said to himself Jesus should not allow this sinner to touch him. Jesus proceeds to tell him a story. He tells the story of two people who were forgiven debts. One was 50 denarii, and the other was 500 denarii. The question is which one would love more? The obvious answer is the one who was forgiven much will love much.
The problem with most of us is we feel like our sin was the 50 denarii level. It wasn’t really that bad and really all we needed was a little help to get over the hump and become a good person. We obligatorily attend church, tip God when the plate comes by, get a feeling like we have made amends with Jesus and leave feeling like we are square.
The reality is that we are all the sinful woman in this story who has a great debt that cannot be paid. Until we realize that Jesus saved us from the circle of death and took our place we will never understand the message of the gospel.
This woman understood her sin and what she was saved from. She had no sense of obligation when it came to her response to Jesus; it was complete adoration. She knew she could never pay Jesus back for what He had done for her but she was compelled because of her adoration for Him to give Him her best.
When you walk into church Sunday, you will walk in believing one of two scenarios. Either you have been forgiven little, and you will do God a favor by sacrificing your time on a Sunday morning, or you will realize you have been saved from the reality of death and you will worship your Savior with a heart full of adoration. My prayer is you choose the latter.
Jeff Pratt is a pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lebanon. Preacher’s Corner features a new local preacher each month writing a column.