Tow days before the Passover Jesus was sitting at a dinner party when a woman approached him with a valuable oil in a sealed fancy container. She broke the seal and poured the fragrant ointment over Jesus' head. What would your response to such a seemingly reckless act be?
The response of many around Jesus was to complain that it was a waste. "That ointment could have been sold for three hundred dollars, and given to the poor!" they grumbled.
That sounds not unlike critiques I've heard by many (and of many) within the church. "Just think of what could have been done with that money!" And it might be good to think of what could have been done. But perhaps it would be better if we each ask, "What is God calling me to do with what I have?"
Jesus looked at those looking down on the woman with anger and said, "Leave her alone! Why make trouble for her? She has done a wonderful thing for me. . . . She has played her part. She has anointed my body for its burial, ahead of time. I'm telling you the truth: wherever the message is announced in all the world, the story of what she has done will be told. That will be her memorial." (Mark 14:6-9 - TBE)
Jesus loves the poor. His life, his stories, his generosity boldly declares that. He met them and cared for them like no one else. But rather than jumping on the bandwagon of judgment over this woman, he pointed out that she was doing exactly what she was supposed to be doing with what she had.
Feeding the poor is an amazing agenda. So is caring for the mentally ill. So is passionate prayer. So is creating meaningful worship experiences. So is raising a child. So is building a hospital. So is academic research.
I could go on forever at the ways in which we can serve and reflect the heart of God in our world if we do these things with a heart of love towards him and our neighbour. But what God is asking me to do may not be (and likely isn't) what God is asking you to do. And what God is inviting me into right now may not be what he wants me to invest in for my lifetime! So when we see someone investing in something that isn't close to our heart, let us celebrate how their agenda makes much of Jesus in a way that ours does not.
And let us ask ourselves, "At this moment - with what I have at this time - what is God asking me to do?"