Have you ever really been in love? Do you remember the silliest thing you’ve ever done for the person you loved? Those first feelings–the overwhelming feelings of desire, the obsessive need to touch, to hold, and to be with someone–have thrown all of us into frenzies of emotional activity, and sometimes serious foolishness. Love’s emotions move us beyond the realm of reason.
When people are really in love, they do “crazy” things. From the outside, it looks like madness. Thoughts of our beloved crowd everything else out. We forget to eat, we forget appointments, we forget responsibilities, and we’re consumed by our feelings. Everything we think, do, or say is defined by the presence or absence of the person we love. Love propels us into a feverish preoccupation with another person. You remember, right?
OK, so frenzy is just the first stage. Eventually, if the relationship prospers, our emotions level off and we adjust to the new intimacy. We mellow out a little. We get less obsessive, less “needy,” maybe even less preoccupied with their presence. It happens. But that first rush is something we all experience.
Have you ever felt that way about God?
The Bible is full of examples of people who were actually in love with God! David was. In fact he was so willing to publicly express his love for God that his wife Michal ridiculed him for being so foolish!
David, ceremonially dressed in priest’s linen, danced with great abandon before GOD. The whole country was with him as he accompanied the Chest of GOD with shouts and trumpet blasts.
But as the Chest of GOD came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, happened to be looking out a window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before GOD, her heart filled with scorn. David returned home to bless his family. Michal, Saul’s daughter, came out to greet him: “How wonderfully the king has distinguished himself today–exposing himself to the eyes of the servants’ maids like some burlesque street dancer!”
David replied to Michal, “In GOD’s presence I’ll dance all I want! He chose me over your father and the rest of our family and made me prince over GOD’s people, over Israel. Oh yes, I’ll dance to GOD’s glory–more recklessly even than this. And as far as I’m concerned . . . I’ll gladly look like a fool . . . but among these maids you’re so worried about, I’ll be honored no end.” (2 Samuel 6:14-16,20-22)
Luke, in the New Testament, tells us that Zacchaeus became so preoccupied with Jesus and desperate to see him that he climbed a tree on a public street to get a better view! Zacchaeus’ desire for Jesus sent him up a tree!
Then Jesus entered and walked through Jericho. There was a man there, his name was Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way–he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by. When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.” Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him. Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, “What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?”
Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned. He stammered apologetically, “Master, I give away half my income to the poor–and if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damages.” ‘Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.” (Luke 19:1-10)
Jesus responded in love and appreciation to Zacchaeus’ impulsive frenzy. But the crowd looked on his actions with contempt. How many times have we looked with contempt on folks who worship with abandon? We need to get over ourselves.
People in love take serious heat from the rest of us about their obsessive behaviors. But when you’re in love you’re in love! Love is irrational, yes. But nothing compares to love’s power to change and heal all of us, even if it looks “irrational” from the “cheap seats.”
The women around Jesus were in love with Him. That love drew them to stay close to him throughout his public ministry, despite the prohibitions of Jewish law against fraternizing with men. They were willing to risk their reputations and even their lives to stay with him, even through His crucifixion, when the other disciples ran and hid.
Look at Mary, anointing him before his death. She risked public condemnation and stoning just by entering the men’s dining area at a time in Jewish history where women were prohibited from talking to men, or even from being in the same room with them. But she went anyway…on her knees, to the feet of Jesus.
Mary took a very expensive bottle of perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet. She wiped them with her hair, and the sweet smell of the perfume filled the house. A disciple named Judas Iscariot was there. He was the one who was going to betray Jesus, and he asked, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold for three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor?” Judas did not really care about the poor. He asked this because he carried the moneybag and sometimes would steal from it.
Jesus replied, “Leave her alone! She has kept this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor with you, but you won’t always have me.” (John 12:3-8.)
So what have you risked lately, to express your love for your God?
Father, heal our contempt for Love’s power and presence, and give all of us the grace and faith to worship you with abandon! Amen!