"We were bought with a kiss..." The words of the song invaded my thoughts. I've probably listened to that David Crowder song a hundred times before but today was the first time I "heard" that one line--like it yelled at me and captured my full attention. In grasping the truth of that one line, the whole song became new to me as it blew away some of my own stinkin' thinkin'!
And the problem is this: WE WERE BOUGHT WITH A KISS,
But the cheek still turned even when it wasn't hit...
Have you ever thought about that? ...How we were bought with a traitor's Kiss? Jesus knew before He ever went to the Garden of Gethsemane--Judas would betray him, setting God's plan into motion. A kiss meant for evil ultimately brought the redemption of man as God worked His will and way in the middle of circumstance.
Looking back at my own life, I remember how often I thought He can't forgive me--He couldn't love me...WHY would He love me? I've heard the same time and again from many whose paths have crossed mine so I know I'm not alone in my thinking. Lately, some circumstances have caused those thoughts to resurface more than I really like to admit.
But as I pondered the phrase "bought with a kiss," I thought back to all of Judas' story and about Jesus' unfailing love for him. Judas' kissed him as he would a friend. Even in that moment, Jesus knew it was an act betrayal not of friendship, yet He still turned his cheek to receive the kiss. He knew He would die a painful death out of love for the very worst of us...even Judas. I don't know if I could have, but I think that maybe in that same moment he received the kidss, Jesus also forgave Judas. Maybe as Judas drew away, he looked in Jesus' eyes. I can only imagine that he was overwhelmed with the shame of his betrayal but Jesus' tender eyes still offered forgiveness. He loved Judas enough to forgive him but Judas wouldn't accept it...In denying forgiveness, he denied Christ's love.
Crowder was in awe of such a love as he pondered Jesus' response to Judas, "And I don't know what to do with a love like that." A love that sees past betrayal and sin to the very heart of men and women like us. If I stay in my "unlovable" mindset, I can't really do much with the grace and the overwhelming love I've been given. In HOPE, we talked about life changes a lot recently. We will see evidence of lives that have been changed by His love this Sunday through baptism--Life Change Sunday. Circmstances and teaching "change" has caused me to reflect on my own life changes since I came to Abilene...even in the last few months. I'm not the same person I was before November of 2003. I've been in church my whole life. I've known grace...And I've known and witnessed "ungrace" far too often. I guess, if I'm to be honest, I have to admit I've also been a part of "ungrace" too.
I remember the hurt, despair, the loneliness, and the utter worthlessness I felt the first time I walked in Mission Abilene. I wanted to run away but I was detained. To my surprise, I found acceptance there in the middle of people who had the courage to be broken too--no pretending. I can't say that things have gone the way I expected...I've walked through some of my hardest miles and I've fallen again and again. But I can say that I've known grace like I've never known before in the last few years. Grace has changed me...Why? Because Jesus love ME. A few years ago, I could say the words but I was empty inside yet I still tried vainly to earn the grace I had been given. Today, I can say the words and I'm overwhelmed because of the vastness of His love...At a little place called Mission Abilene, filled with imperfect and broken people, I've discovered a secret. He loves ME--the best and the very worst of me. His love isn't measured by how well I love Him back and His grace isn't measured by how much i deserve it. When I think about that kiss--I know that I know Jesus loved Judas with all His heart. Judas should have known...shouldn't he? He had been with Jesus up close for three years! He should have known what to do with a love like that. But he couldn't look beyond his own remorse to embrace Jesus' love. He took his own life. In denying grace, he threw away Jesus's love. He wasted it...
Peter betrayed Jesus too--denying him three times when Jesus needed him most. Jesus looked at him across the courtyard as the rooster crowed. As Peter met His gaze, no doubt he knew the shame of his denial, but I think he must have seen a love that was so much greater in Christ's eyes. Though he was filled with shame and remorse for the moment, he knew that he couldn't turn away from the kind of love that looks beyond betrayal and sin. He probably wondered what to do with a love like that...till Jesus said, "Feed My sheep." And Peter did. Jesus' love changed him and because he let the love he had been given flow out of him, Peter changed the world...
By nature, I often turn away or resist the Savior's grace...when I fail Him so deeply and I can't imagine that anyone could love me as I am. In those times, I want to be reminded of that kiss... Jesus knew the depth of Judas' betrayal--all for 30 shekels of silver but Jesus still loved him enough to die for the sake of him. No matter how great my failure, His love remains the same--it never diminishes. He loves ME--it's an undeniable truth. He died for the sake of love, knowing every sin, every failure, every evil thought. So the question remains: What will I do with a love like that? What will you do?
I'm going to keep striving to embrace it...to truly experience His love as I never have before. I want to be overwhelmed because He loves all of me--the whole kit and kaboodle! And in fully accepting His immeasurable love even though I don't deserve it, maybe I can BE a love like that.
"...The problem it seems is with you and me,
not the Love who came to repair everything.
Where there is pain, let US bring grace.
Where there is suffering, bring serenity.
For those afraid, let us be brave.
Where there is misery, let us bring relief.
And surely we can change....Surely we can change something.
Oh, the world's about to change...The whole world's about to change..."
--David Crowder, "Surely We Can Change," Remedy song #10. If you haven't heard it before, check out this song.
His love isn't complete until I accept it in full and I return it to Him by loving others just as He loves me...I like saying that and even hearing it. I don't flinch so much anymore or turn to stone... He loves me....Hmm, for so many years I said what I've known in my head--I thought I understood--but that's as far as it got. Can you imagine the difference? Now I say it and the words mean so much more. I'm overwhelmed and humbled by the truth of three tiny words--because what I know in my head, I now hold in my heart and I will never be the same.
Bought with a kiss...
.. Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.
Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God... -- 1 John 3:18-21 NIV