Jesus has an unwavering commitment to all of us! While we measure ourselves by the successes and failures of others, Jesus knows that we are all desperately in need of His love and influence. While we withhold acceptance and inclusion from those we believe would hurt our "brand," Jesus provides access to His presence to everyone who wants it! How incredible is that?
This acceptance of Mary is not a fluke or deviation. Jesus demonstrated a commitment to valuing the least, the last, and the lost at all times. He spent such quality time with the outcasts--tax collectors, prostitutes, and other social outsiders--that when the Pharisees ran out of ways to criticize His ministry they criticized His company. . . . Still, Jesus gravitated to those living on the fringes of society. He was comfortable living on the edge and offering fellowship to those who needed it most.
Not only did Jesus lavish love on the sinners of His day, but He still visits the fringes today when the sinners across town, on my side of town, and even the sinner inside of me are in need of the presence of God. I am so glad no one's situation or story disqualifies us from enjoying His healing and loving presence. What a beautifully loving God we serve!
I have been so lost that I became certain God no longer saw me. I've experienced fears so immense and disappointments so deep that I've cried out in terror, "Where are You?" and then in anger, "Where are You!" The unanswered prayers. The silence. The sickness and loss. I have felt invisible to God.
But how I feel is not the truest thing, in the end. Because through it all, from the very first moment I started to feel lost, He saw me. He pursued me. Perhaps He was making His way toward me even as I resented His absence, but I just didn't know it. Sometimes we have to cling to what we know above what we can feel. And according to the Bible, what we can know for sure is that God is a God who sees. He sees me. He sees you. He sees everything. While we are trying desperately to get His attention, trying everything we can think of to make Him just "Look, Father, look!" He is already on His way to find us.
God's gift of salvation and eternal life, made possible by the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, really is indescribable. The apostle couldn't have said it any better. Oh, we can try to describe it, but it's such a great gift that we can't begin to comprehend the love that would cause the Father and Son to agree to such a sacrifice. Jesus came to our sin-darkened world to live a perfect, righteous life and die the death that we deserve--all so that we may have His righteousness and live forever with Him in heaven. Truly, that is an indescribable gift!
I've met a lot of people who are trying to earn salvation. They try with all their might to be good in their own strength and willpower, but I'm here to tell you that you can't ever be good enough to deserve salvation. That is why God offers it to you as a gift. You do not deserve a gift. You do not earn a gift. You accept a gift. That's what God wants you to do with the gift He offers you. Just accept it. He wants to save you, and He will--if you will just let Him. Just accept the eternal life He offers.
Have you ever traveled to a place of significance and had a thank-you prayer in the actual spot a memorable event occured? Jacob in Genesis 28 had a memorable God-intervention moment. Jacob had tricked his father into believing he was his older brother, Esau, so his father had given him the birthright blessing. When Esau heard, he was furious and vowed to kill Jacob. Assuming the worst, Jacob fled for his life.
The first night of his journey he had a dream of a stairway from heaven to the earth with angels ascending and descending on it. Before continuing on his journey, he named the place Bethel; verse 16 describes, "When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, 'Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.' " More than twenty years later, God called him back to Bethel for worship and dedication. So many emotions swept over Jacob as he remembered all God had done for him since that day when his life seemed so uncertain.
In the same way, God calls us to return. Sometimes it is a call to give thanks (such as the one leper who was cleansed), or it is a call to return to the place where we first made a commitment, or it is a place of rest in His promises that "God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns" (Philippians 1:6, NLT). Always, Jesus is calling. His life makes a difference for us, and His life through us makes a difference