We heard a wonderful message on Sunday from Cindy Lee, a Taiwanese American serving at the Pearl Church in Taipei. She taught on God's extravagant love & grace from Luke 7:36-50 and how we must humble ourselves to receive it. Recognizing our need in the same way as the women that poured herself out before Jesus. She also shared about her personal experience and understanding of the extravagant love of God through a story from her childhood. I asked her if I could share a part of her message with you:
"I think there are so many lost Christians in this world because we haven’t truly received. There are so many lost Christians in this city, and many who come through this church. It seems like a contradiction to say lost Christian. Isn’t Jesus the answer? And that’s right. Theologically, it’s impossible to have a lost Christian. And yet…so many of us live like lost Christians. We live confused, like we don’t know who we are, like we don’t know what our purpose is. If that’s you, then maybe you’ve never truly received.
Allow me to give an illustration, and hopefully this will help. For those of you that grew up in the church, what is one of the first songs that you learn in Sunday school? Most likely it’s Jesus loves me. Well, I grew up going to a Taiwanese immigrant church in a suburb near Chicago, and we did sing Jesus loves me, but we had to learn it in Taiwanese. The parents thought we should learn about Jesus and learn about our culture at the same time. So instead of singing Jesus loves me this I know, we sang “Ya Sou Tia Wa, Wa Zai Ah.
But it wasn’t until recently that I realized they changed one of the words to the song. In Taiwanese, they changed the word for love.
If you looked at a Chinese hymnal, you would see the Chinese word for love, which most of you know is Ai. And there is a Taiwanese equivalent to that, just a different tone, Ai. But that’s not the word they sing. The Taiwanese dialect doesn’t have a written form, but when Taiwanese congregations looks at the Chinese hymnal, their mind instinctively replaces the word love with Tia.
Tia is most often used when talking about a parent’s love for a child. Tia is feeling plus action put together. It means, because I love you, I’ll take care of you. It means, because I love you, I’ll provide for you. What’s strange is that Tia also means hurt. So the Chinese character is teng which is the same character and same word for hurt, implying that there is also pain in this kind of love. Because I love you, I will make sacrifices for you. I know it’s confusing, but it’s the gospel in a Taiwanese word.
Here’s another example for those of you that didn’t grow up in a Taiwanese household. Think about your Taiwanese friends, or the Taiwanese people that come to this church. How do they serve you? How do they serve the church? Well, most of them are really good and taking care of people and taking care of whatever needs to get done. Whenever you have a need, they’re the first to offer help. That’s Tia. It’s like Tia is the spiritual gift of the Taiwanese people.
But doesn’t that change the song? Not only does Jesus love you, but Jesus takes care of you. And that’s exactly what so many of us have trouble receiving. Yes, you know Jesus loves you, but that love remains abstract, and you’ve never experienced the very tangible, very real, very intimate and very caring love of Jesus Christ. You don’t know Jesus in that way. You’ve never full received.
Maybe you would never dare or risk to put yourself in such a vulnerable position as this woman did, and trust that Jesus will respond. Maybe you’re like Simon, showing respect to Jesus on the outside, but skeptical of Jesus on the inside. You don’t trust Jesus enough to actually let him make changes to your life.
It’s fitting that this woman’s actions were so extravagant, because God’s love is extravagant, but it must be received..."