Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. Mark 14:4-6
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24
You and I can take solace in the fact that we would never do what “some of those present” did to poor Mary of Bethany in Mark 14. You and I are way, way too spiritual to ever do such a thing! Truly, all Mary was doing was loving Jesus with extravagance…pouring her very heart out with every ounce of perfume which left that container. She was oblivious to the awkwardness or to the social or political “incorrectness” of her actions…her heart was 100% for Jesus in that moment. That, my friends, was the very picture of “true worship”.
So, to scoff or to rebuke her for it…well, wow, that is just embarrassing. I’m just glad you and I would never do that.
There are actually a few other places I can think of in the Bible where people scoffed at or made fun of someone’s worship of God. None of those stories ended well for those scoffers. It seems that God really does frown on such scoffers. Worship, after all, is not for their benefit at all; rather, it is aimed only at God. What business is it of others …
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over. Mark 14:43-46
My ministry brings me into contact with a good number of people who have felt wounded by the church. God seems to have given me the awesome assignment of being an encourager and exhorter to those people. I co-authored a book with Debbie Taylor Williams aimed specifically at the pain of these same dear friends: “Trusting God’s People…Again”. It is on my mind this week, because I will be speaking from it the next two Sunday evenings at my church.
Being hurt by the church is by no means a unique experience. The statistics of those who feel injured by the church are pretty overwhelming! But the pain itself, the feelings of betrayal by God’s own people…those feelings are definitely unique to these circumstances. Being hurt by the church is just not comparable to any other pain…not really. It is a deep and lasting pain of being wounded by the very place which should be the safest place in the world for us. The healing process, therefore, is likewise pretty profound.
The good news is this: the One administering the healing from this pain knows all about it from personal experience. That makes a big difference! Here is the way I describe it in the book:
THE NATURE OF PAIN / THE PROCESS OF HEALING
Like physical pain, emotional or spiritual pain can be incapacitating. When your leg is broken, no matter how much you want to walk on it, no matter how important walking might be to you, you simply cannot do it. A healing process must take