Jeff and Angie Baer sharing on Passionate Worship -
one of Gateway Church's core values
Angie: I’m going to read to you this:
When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Angie: And this we know as Mary Magdalene, also known as Mary of Bethany. Mary, her name actually means ‘bitter’. And Bethany means ‘house of misery’; Magdalene means ‘a tower.’ When I was putting all of this together, I realized ‘you know what? She kind of had this idol, this tower in her life of misery and bitterness and that’s what she focused on. That’s what her worship was until she had revelation of who Jesus was and what He could do.
She was so moved that they had not washed His feet (as was custom); it kind of ticked her off. She’s like ‘you know what? He deserved more than this, and I’m going to let this just be and extravagant gift.’ And in the face of a lot of intimidation and the Pharisaical hypocrisy, she went for it; breaking her perfume wide open. Several different translations say it was a pint or spikenard. That’s a lot of oil, if you’ve ever smelled essential oil, just one or two drops is strong! So, a whole pint? What she was doing, she basically was a nasty annoyance in the Pharisee’s presence because now the entire house smelled like her. And when she left guess what it smelled like? And probably for a very long time.
That fragrance was in the air both because of her indignation for how they were treating Jesus, and also because she had such a passionate love. Of course, Jesus knows who she was. And if all the Mary’s of the Bible are who we think they are, she was the one with the seven demons who had lived that life of prostitution. Jesus had delivered her from that and oh my goodness! would you think she wasn’t changed by the fact that He wouldn’t judge her worship? She was totally rocked by that, and now her fragrance of worship changes everything around her!
Jeff: So, when we talk about passionate worship, we’ll ask ‘how do I learn to be a worshiper? How do I grow my passion for worship?’
Well, worship is only the response to revelation. You can’t worship unless you have a revelation of Jesus and how good He is. We don’t go and try to worship, ‘oh let’s be better worshippers.’ No, we look on the face of Jesus and we see His love for us and the greatness with which He’s delivered us; the depth that He’s forgiven in our hearts. When we have revelation of His greatness, worship becomes the automatic response.
Sometimes I think we try to build worship out of emotion or else we consider that if we play the right song, then we’ll feel like worshiping. But that is just an outside thing. Worship comes from the heart, that’s a passion for God and what He did for us. So, if you want to worship more deeply; if you want to grow in passionate worship, look on the face of Jesus and see who He is.
There’s one other thing I want to bring out of this story. Mary, she worshiped in spite of what was going on around her. We have a tendency to worship out of a place of if things are going well and when we consider that God is great. But there’s something beautiful that comes out of worship that is given in the place of pain; when we go ahead and worship anyways. There’s a beauty and a fragrance that comes out of that place that cannot be released in any other way.
Once all your pain is healed, you’ve lost the opportunity to produce that fragrance. So many times, we try to get free of our pain, asking God to remove all those struggles and heartbreaks from out life as we feel that then we could worship freely. But God is calling us saying ‘worship Me in the now. Worship Me in this place!’ Because the fragrance you can produce from here you will never again have the opportunity to produce. That is the place of passionate worship.
We’re not in this to get us fixed. We’re in this to bring glory to the One. And when we surrender our pain to that place and say, ‘God, if you want me to live in this place the rest of my life, I’ll worship you anyways.’ That’s the place of beauty. So, let’s stop trying to get fixed so we can worship. Let’s worship out of the place we are today. That’s where the beauty is.
Angie: The fragrance of our worship in those places where we don’t measure up, where we have a pretty nasty past. Or maybe you don’t have a great big amazing testimony that you got saved from, but you had bitterness and criticism in your heart and towards other people. When you take that thing and life it up, your praise going through that, it actually fragrance’s your worship. And He smells that beauty despite who you were, or what people have named you. That thing that trips you up, when you worship through that it’s going to make this beautiful fragrance. And it is lasting; it’s going to linger. This is what we want to walk in. We want to walk in the fragrance, that anointing oil of the beautiful scent to the Lord.
Jeff: I want to ask you to pray with me; to lead you in a prayer of surrendering your pain unto Him, letting Him have it, and committing to worshiping through it.
“Father God, I surrender my pain and bitterness to You. And I make a choice today, to worship through that, to worship in spite that, knowing that it produces fragrance.”
It’s the blood of Jesus that makes it possible to worship through our pain. Without His blood, we are not cleansed from a conscience that condemns us. But by His blood we are cleansed and our conscience is sprinkled. We are able to thus come freely before Him. We can thus worship freely before Him.