Cade, who was six, started to give his answer out loud, but I said, “No, no. Just think about it in your mind.”
Glancing at them through the rear view mirror, I imagined them trying to decide between video games, legos, and movies. I let the quiet linger in the car, but then I released the clincher.
“Ok, do you have your answer? Have you decided what you love most?” I said. “Was your answer God? Because He says that we should love Him most. If your answer was something else, God says that is wrong. He calls that other thing an idol. Anything we love more than God is an idol.”
I had a sense of satisfaction. I had buried them under a thick layer of conviction. I just knew it.
Cade said, “But, wait. My thing that I picked was…. Daddy.”
Bless his sweet little heart. I presumed he was dreaming of Lego knights and Mario Bros! But as a son, Cade knew that it couldn’t be wrong to want more time with his Daddy.
A Pharisee’s Heart
In Luke 5:27-35 some Pharisees show up at a party. Levi has just left his tax collecting business and plans to follow Jesus now. So he has invited all of his friends, and made Jesus the guest of honor. He did not, however, invite the Pharisees.
Jesus went out to respond to directly respond to the Pharisees, who were grumbling about Jesus dipping his hand in the same bowl with these nasty sinners. But Jesus said, “I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, for I have come to call sinners to repentance.”
The Pharisees scoffed at this. They said, “It doesn’t look like repentance happening in there! When John the Baptist called for repentance, his disciples fasted and prayed. Your followers are in there partying!”
But Jesus said, “Why would they not be? I’m here!”
Levi had just left a sinful way of making money. He felt more free than ever before. He was excited about Jesus. So he threw a party! And Jesus showed up, not to make some sinful people feel less judged. He showed up because Levi’s new faith was worth celebrating!
But the Pharisees didn’t think so. According to them, Jesus should have declined the party invitation. Why? Sinners were there. Never mind that one of these sinners had become a Jesus follower. Never mind that Jesus was the guest of honor. The Pharisees had turned godliness into a list of things you didn’t do and people you didn’t associate with, rather than a relationship worth celebrating.
What am I celebrating?
Sadly, this is often the mistake I slip into. Like that day in the car. I was interested in showing my kids what they shouldn’t do, shouldn’t love, and shouldn’t think of as an answer to my question. But had I invited them to celebrate anything? Christians are the ones who should be celebrating! We are healed of our sin disease. We are free–both of any coming consequences and it’s current bondage!
Yes, there is a place for fasting. Fasting helps us clear away the cravings for sin, which should not be celebrated. It helps us focus on our Lord and look forward to the day that we will enjoy a celebration in honor of all He has done! But as Christians, we have much to celebrate. One day, we will dip our hand into the same bowl as God, Himself. We are friends of God. Our relationship with Him satisfies our every craving.
What better picture of this than a little boy dreaming of more time with his Daddy? Longing to spend more time with him and knowing that nothing will make him more happy? That’s how Levi felt about Jesus. He would have given up anything just to be with the Lord. He had quit his job! And not because he felt convicted by a command to put God first and have no idols. Levi left everything behind because he wanted to follow Jesus more. And now he was celebrating his decision! He was celebrating his new relationship with Jesus.
So that day in the car, after I delivered the clincher to my children, it was I who was convicted. God, keep me from having the heart of a Pharisee–always deducing godliness to a list of things not to do. Help me to be like a child, just craving more time with you; celebrating that I am your friend; amazed that my sin disease has been healed. You are my guest of honor, dear Jesus. May I always live in celebration of You!