Why is that we're much better sinners than lovers? Why are we more drawn to the prostitute than to the penitent woman?
It's quite simple, really: nobody has ever loved us like Jesus.
What I mean is this - we're already pretty good at second chances. Our world is built around them. We are wounded in relationship again and again and again, and still, we live with each other. This world is full of people who lie to us, people who cheat us, people who seek to kill us or, at least, kill our spirits. It's full of prostitutes and whores and hypocrites and sinners, and far more than we have been loved in our lives, we have been sinned against, or so it seems. So we understand sin and second chances; we have both given and received an abundance of them.
What we don't understand is love.
We don't understand what possesses a woman to bust into a party and make a spectacle out of herself if it's more than merely a sin transaction. We don't understand this kind of devotion. So we tell the story from sin, making it something far less than it truly is. It's a sad commentary on the state of our world, yes, but sadder still on the state of our hearts.
So how do we change it? What do we do? Do we simply become lovers in a sinful world?
Yes and no.
Yes, we must become lovers; that is what Jesus calls us to be. (He never, for what it's worth, calls us to be sinners. He never even calls us sinners at all. We are His beloved, so you'd think we ought to act like it.) It's not easy. It takes vulnerability. It takes a willingness to enter into the ache. It takes a certain ability to stand naked in a shameful world and not care who's watching.
But our ability to become lovers goes far beyond what it does for us. It goes far beyond whatever one party we crash. It goes beyond the living room of one Pharisee.
You see, we are sinners because we are surrounded by sinners. Because at every turn, we are sinning against each other. We are liars because we have been lied to. We cheat because we have been cheated. We wound because we have been wounded. It's what we've come to expect of the world, so it's what we've come to expect of ourselves.
But if we become lovers, if we are willing to crash parties the way the sinful woman does, if we will fall at His feet in aching devotion, pour out our tears, let down our hair, and love without shame, then that love spreads from our Savior to His beloved. We start to love people around us, too. Not as prostitutes love them, but as prodigals love them. And then something amazing happens.
Our kids grow up in a world that loves them. Our neighbors live in a community that loves them. People become lovers more often than they are sinners, and before we know it, we've raised up a new generation that loves God wildly. Because love is the new norm. Love is the thing we do. Love is what we expect from each other, what we give each other. It's our M.O.
And all of a sudden, we're reading the Scriptures and telling the story of a sinful woman whose incredible act of love will be told around the world...instead of the story of a prostitute whose sins are forgiven.