Years ago, I stood in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. We were on our way to a mission trip in Egypt and our flight layover in Rome provided a chance to stop by a few world-famous places. There, at what some would consider the holiest place in the world, I waited for awe to creep in. But instead I found an incredible sadness…a sense of disconnect. “This isn’t what He would have wanted!”, I thought. This ornate, grandiose portrayal of man’s idea of what it meant to worship God – it just wasn’t Him! I was feeling that, were Jesus Himself standing there, He’d be shaking His head at us, saying we’d got it all wrong.
But in the years that passed since then, I’ve come to realize that there was an aspect of God that I was missing. Yes, He is the meek, the lowly, He models for us how to seek the lowest place and how the humble will be exalted. Yet there is also another part of Him that we’ve not yet glimpsed. Perhaps it is revealed in the 12 gates of the New City of Jerusalem, each made of a single pearl. Perhaps it is unveiled in the golden streets of that same city, that will someday come down from heaven to earth. They are of such pure gold, they will look like transparent glass. Perhaps it is portrayed in the glimpse into the heavenly throne room where His magnificence is so powerful as to overwhelm the simple prophet who saw it, not even in its true form but just a vision.
The truth? Our God is an extravagant God. When He gives to us, He gives with extravagance. When He pours out His blessing, He often does so, not parceling it out in meager pieces but with extravagance. When He provided supper for the five thousand, they not only had enough for every person to eat to the full – but had 12 baskets left over. That’s extravagance.
When it came to the cross, God didn’t give meagerly there either. He didn’t send an angel to pay for humanity’s sins. He didn’t merely arrange for His Son to endure a quick and painless punishment, even though death could have been brought in many less-painful ways. No, even in this, God gave extravagantly. He gave His Only Son – to not just endure pain but to die – and to die in the most painful way possible. God was…extravagant.
So it’s no wonder then, when Mary began to pour out the perfume over Jesus’ feet and the others protested, Jesus stopped them cold. LEAVE HER ALONE! There is a time to save up our money, there is a time to care for the poor, there is a time to watch every penny. But there is a time to be extravagant – and that is when we are bowing in worship at His feet.
A few years ago, our church was delivering Christmas gifts to a needy family. This family also had some practical needs; they were going through a pretty tough time. What they didn’t know is that those needs would be met also. A son of about age 9 or 10 was home when we arrived with everything. As the items were carried into the house, the child began to cry openly. “It’s too much!”. He was overwhelmed by the generosity and love represented by those gifts. In that moment I understood the heart of God’s extravagance; it shows us who He is – a God who gives freely, unflinchingly, and generously to each one of us – who can give Him NOTHING back in return.
When was the last time you were extravagant in your worship?
Happening This Week