Pure: free from anything of a different, inferior, or contaminating kind; free from extraneous matter; free from foreign or inappropriate elements; clear; free from blemishes; straightforward, unaffected; clean, spotless and unsullied; without any discordant quality; free of or without guilt; independent of sense or experience.
I heard something in church a couple weeks ago that was crucial, necessary, poignant, and that brought me to tears, right there, all of a sudden, and very unexpectedly. My son’s youth pastor was speaking and she was speaking about Jesus and his love, his pure love. She was using the passage of scripture where the disciples want to know who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Isn’t that just like us, to want to know if we are the best, the most loved, and to question how we will be judged to achieve that place? I mean, seriously, I think they wanted a rubric!
Matthew 18:1-3: ‘At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”’
This is a common verse and I have read it many times, heard pastors speak on it, used it in illustrations to my own kids, and watched it played out in many VBS stories. And if you read my Look Me in the Eyes or my Just Ask blog, you’ll know that I love when Jesus is straight forward and obvious. I love when he stops and acts in the moment and when he is completely intentional. His interactions are always pure, free of all the stuff that we, in our humanness, assign to our thoughts, actions, and motives.
I had heard the passage so many times, but had missed the purity of Jesus’ intention. As the adults crowd around asking if they are the best and the greatest, he stops and calls the children to him, sweet, right? A move that is very kind, the purity of which had previously been lost on me. Children were not revered at this time. They were not celebrated and they for sure were not given trophies for participation. But Jesus took the time to stop, and welcome them to him, with open arms, purely. He had people around him, asking questions, crowding his space and his thoughts and he simply stopped and invited the children in, and probably looked them in the eyes and listened to them with an intention they had, most likely, never experienced before. And he had to ask the adults to move and make way, and to stop crowding. With an intense purity (see definition above again) he welcomed them and pushed the other yucky stuff away.
As the pastor put her own spin on the passage she said the thing that brought me to tears, healed parts of me I did not know needed to continue to be healed, set me free from my internal dialogue that questions my validity, and helped me to look directly in Jesus’ eyes and hear the purity of his love. She said…
“It does not take a special heart to love you.”
As adults, we take in things that are said to us, we make assumptions about why things have happened in our lives and those assumptions affect our thoughts, actions and behaviors. The happenings in our lives make a mark on us that our human brokenness wants us to hold onto, that can and often does inform the way me move through life and how we react to circumstances, both good and bad.
I have come to assume that it would take a special person to love me. Someone with extended endurance maybe, someone who can weed through the words to get to the heart of my intention, someone who could carry the conversation when I was at a loss, someone who would continue to investigate until they fully understood me even when it got confusing, and someone with the patience of Job. And all of that clouds what love really is and how Jesus intended it to be. He was the perfect example of love, intention, understanding, and care. His love for us is pure, in the truest sense of the word.
He simply opens his arms and pulls us in, loving us regardless of what we did, regardless of how we act, and regardless of how we communicate. And do you know what? It’s not hard. We allow our inner dialogue to take over and we trust it to inform us, but often that inner dialogue is not accurate. We have to let all that nonsense that has built up in our head go. We need to stop the flow of doubt and the questioning and the misinformed reflection that we hold onto so tightly. Because Jesus loves us, purely. He asks everyone to leave and lets us climb into his arms. He stops the world when we need him and he takes us in regardless of our stuff. His intention is for us, for our comfort, for our healing, and for our motivation.
Don’t we all need to hear that? That we are worthy of pure love? That he loves us, better than anyone ever could, better than we have ever been loved before and he does so easily and with pure intention. And he wants us, to just come to him, to run to his straightforward, unaffected, clean, spotless and unsullied love.
The knowledge of the purity of his love frees me up, moves me forward, puts a spring in my step, and makes me hopeful for the future.
By His Grace