“Crazy Love: The Search for Unquenchable”

February 16th, 2018

We live in a crazy world of reality TV shows with plenty of drama. Just take a look at The Bachelor, The Real Housewives, and Love & Hip Hop and you’ll see “outrageous” at its best. We’ve experienced political seasons play out as a divisive and outlandish spectacle. We live amidst the reality of economic instability and religious volatility. Yet, there’s something deep inside all of us that desires another kind of crazy. It’s a crazy love. Our souls are thirsty for a love that’s everlasting. And yet, reality shows, political parties, and public institutions alone cannot quench this thirst. We need something more.

Today’s message is titled “Crazy Love: The Search for Unquenchable.” Our scripture is from the Gospel according to Luke chapter 10 verses 38 to 42.

I have the privilege of being a mom to Isaac, who’s twelve, Aaron, who’s ten, and Alexis, who is six years old. They spend most of their summers playing baseball, basketball, and soccer. Whether on the field or in the backyard I always know that within twenty minutes of practicing in the summer heat someone will say, “I’m so thirsty!” And so the debate begins as we discuss what they should drink. My preference as their mother is always water. But of course they’d rather have Gatorade, which is filled with sugar and comes in dozens of kid-friendly flavors like glacier freeze, rain berry, and lemon lime. 

What’s your drink of choice? Coffee, tea, soda, sports drinks? I have to admit that I’m a coffee lover and Diet Coke (not Pepsi) has a place in my refrigerator. 

Oh yes, and then there’s water. Science tells us that water is not only thirst quenching but has many benefits for our bodies in general and vital organs in
particular. 

Water:

Prevents dehydration

Regulates body temperature

Carries nutrients and oxygen to the cells

Provides moisture to the skin and other tissues

Helps prevent constipation

Cushions joints

Helps strengthen muscles

Helps to curb your appetite

It contains no calories, fat, or cholesterol, and is low in sodium. Now that part sounds good! An average healthy adult needs to consume at least eight glasses of water each day, and even more during the summer heat. I bet we could all drink more water to quench our physical thirst. 

(Note: Pass out bottles of water to the congregation.)

Likewise, there is a spiritual thirst inside each of us. In our humanness we try to quench this spiritual thirst by television, sports, politics, relationships, and even money. 

How do you quench your spiritual thirst? 

Francis Chan in his book Crazy Love quotes John Piper from the book God Is the Gospel, and asks about spiritual thirst in this way: 

If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you’ve ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disaster, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?1

Would you take all the pleasures of life without Jesus? Would you take it?

This seems like an easy question to ask in church, but if we’re honest, it’s a tough question to answer in our humanness. Just like we know that water is the best beverage for us, but don’t drink it like we should, we are also tempted to take all the pleasures of the world and leave Jesus behind. 

Here’s why. Most of us have tasted the world and everything it has to offer, but we have failed to nourish ourselves with the fullness of the love of Jesus, so we settle for substitutes.  

- We pray and ask God to pay our bills because we have not tasted the fullness of an abundant God who can lead us toward generosity. 

- We pray and ask God to fix our bad relationships because we have not tasted the fullness of God’s love that is immeasurably more satisfying than what we as humans can give to one another. 

- We pray and ask God to take our physical ailments away because we’ve learned we settle for a body fixing when what God really desires is a heart fixing that will last forever even as our bodies age.

We’ve tasted the world and everything it has to offer, and often Jesus seems so far away. We are distracted and settling for substitutes just like soda, Gatorade, and coffee instead of living water. 

In our scripture today we encounter this predicament as two sisters, Martha and Mary, are anticipating a knock on their door. They have heard that Jesus is on the way. Mary and Martha are excited about Jesus’s coming. They’ve experienced his miracles, his magnificence. They are like family to one another. Yet, Martha and Mary each respond in different ways when Jesus arrives. Martha immediately goes into action, ensuring the house and food are suitable for Jesus. Martha’s gift of hospitality necessitates a special meal, fresh water, and the table being set. I envision, Mary has butterflies in her stomach and is so excited that all she can do is look out the window and anticipate Jesus’s arrival. 

Are you more like Martha or Mary? (Take a poll by show of hands.)

The story continues when Jesus arrives and Mary sits at Jesus’s feet and listens. Yet, in verse 40 Martha is distracted with all the preparations. I wonder if Martha is anxious and troubled about more than the meal. Martha may have had some bills that needed to be paid, a relationship that was troubled, or even health issues that are unresolved. We, like Martha, understand what it’s like to be in the presence of Jesus and still be distracted. 

So picture this . . .

Martha is walking around Jesus. Mary is sitting at Jesus’s feet. 

Martha is fatigued. Mary is nourished.

Martha is consumed by the work of her hands. Mary is centered on the needs of her heart.

Can you picture yourself there in that room with Jesus? I can. I am often Martha, meaning well but focusing on all the things that need to be accomplished “for” Jesus rather than on the joy of being with Jesus. Maybe you know what that’s like.

Like Mary, our deepest thirst is for relationship rather than routine. We need the presence of God beyond the posture of religious righteousness and cultured
congeniality. 

Yet, in a world full of substitutes how do we quench our essential thirst?

First, sit at Jesus’s feet and have a drink. In this time of biblical history, culturally it was unsuitable for a woman to sit at the feet of a rabbi, a male teacher. Mary’s radical act of love is certainly not out of obligation, but out of adoration. She risks social shame for the sake of quenching her essential thirst. She longs to be with God above all else. 

How will you make room for Jesus in your life not out of obligation, but out of outpouring love? When will you stop, rest, and bask in God’s presence in prayer, study, worship, and silence? How will you eliminate distractions and singularly drink from the well of living water at least once a day? 

Take a moment and write down one action you can begin to take this week. 

A second way we quench our essential thirst is: 

Invite others to drink with us. Like Martha, I grew up learning the value of hospitality. We often had friends and family drop by to visit, especially on Sundays. I remember our big party of the year was on New Year’s Day! Dozens of people visited to eat dinner, watch football games, and enjoy deep belly laughs of joy. Our family shopped, cooked, and cleaned for days in advance. But, moments before the first guests arrived my mother would change into her party dress, put on her favorite music, and prepare to enjoy the fun. Never mind that some closets never got cleaned and shoes were stuffed underneath the bed. Welcoming people into our homes and lives is a gift worth sharing. Communities of grace are a place to quench our essential thirst. Whether it happens over a meal in homes, with coffee at the local café, or in the church fellowship hall, true hospitality makes people feel seen, heard, and valued. That’s living water. 

I envision Jesus flipping the proverbial “water bottle” and saying, “Drink from my well of living water first and then share my love with others.” 

Ahhh . . . that’s crazy love. 

Let us pray. 

Prayer: God, help us to open ourselves up to you. We confess that we’ve tried to impress you and others with our works. We have been in the kitchen distracted. God, we need to come to your table and drink from your fountain of everlasting love. For those of us who need a drink of your living water for the first time, Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer. For those of us who have been at the table but have been too distracted to bask in your presence, help us to come back to you. Lord in your mercy, forgive us. For those of us who have been too busy to share your love with others, help us to strip away our distractions and make room for the new relationships you put in our path. Be, O Lord, our eternal love and thirst quencher.

Amen.

 

1. John Piper, God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God’s Love as the Gift of Himself (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005), 15 quoted in Francis Chan, Crazy Love (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook Publishing, 2008), 100.

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