The Discomfort of PDA

Isn’t it uncomfortable to witness PDA?

You know, a discreet flash of it is acceptable for most of us, but it doesn’t take long to make us squirm and wonder if the initiator might be better off expressing him or herself in private – you know, during their daily quiet time or perhaps in another church, one where such demonstrations are encouraged.

Oh, I’m sorry. That was misleading, wasn’t it? We’re actually talking about public displays of adoration.

When God brings a Bible story to my attention, twice in ten minutes, I focus. Yesterday on my drive to work, my Bible CD ended with the story from Luke 7 of the sinful woman who wet Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.

The CD ended with that story, and unable to reach the next one in the set, I let this one begin again. Track one played Mark 14 featuring the story of the woman in Bethany who anointed Jesus with oil before those gathered for dinner at Simon the leper’s home.

Why did God want me to meditate on these stories – the same theme twice? I love Him. I adore Him. I’ve loved Him since I was a child and He is the single aim of my life.

But, God knows me better than I know myself and so I meditated on life at fifty-six. It’s easy to become settled in what one thinks one knows about faith. It’s easy to begin to cruise. It’s natural to tune out a little, conserve energy (for what, exactly?), fade just a bit.  Is there an osteoporosis of the soul?

In these times when we’ve been warned that the love of many will grow cold, should we not all fly, face-down before Him daily for a diagnostic on our love? When Jesus spoke with Peter on the beach after His resurrection, did He ask if Peter had been obedient or did He ask Him, “Peter, do you love me?” (Which, since obedience demonstrates love is simply testing the root.)

The sinful woman who wept over Jesus created a high level of discomfort in the room with her public display of adoration. I don’t have to paint a picture because we’ve all seen it or felt it or lived it. Public adoration shakes a lot of cobwebs off our souls, because there’s almost no way to NOT react and even if we contain our reaction in ourselves, we see it and God sees it and we see God seeing it.

**Disclaimer for those looking for an out, but I warn you in love not to take it. (Now, we’re all comfortable with different levels of expressing ourselves in worship – yes. We come from various traditions, are created with different personalities, are born or adopted into a variety of cultures – yes.)

But, no one escapes the call to love.

And whether we’ve never actually felt that love or if we’ve let that love fade or if we’re at risk of our love growing cold or if we love just fine but God wants us to go deeper, He never stops nudging us to love Him more because He is love. And without love we have nothing.

And yes, love does. And yes, love acts. And yes, love is a verb. And yes, love is demonstrated through obedience. But, loved ones, love is also a feeling, an emotional outpouring, a public display of adoration.

King David was a warrior’s warrior. So much blood on the man, he wasn’t allowed to build God’s temple. But, his public display of adoration embarrassed his wife – not because of his tunic, but because her inward reaction was to recoil and this was the root of her shame. His display of love revealed her lack and rather than own it, she spit it back at him as condemnation.

Love is uncomfortable to observe from the outside. All kinds of feelings bubble up from the murky depths of our spirits that are influenced by affections, wounds, abandonments, heartaches, fears, joys, attachments, and need. When Judas observed the woman in Bethany, it sealed his betrayal. He chose greed over grace.  When the Pharisee witnessed the sinful woman weep over Jesus’ feet, his inner cynic rose to the surface and Jesus let the man know he wasn’t hiding it as much as he imagined he was.

When we witness the public display of adoration of a new believer, a young believer, a more “emotional” believer, our inner reaction is something not to dismiss or ignore.

“Peter, do you love?” John 21:16a

“Her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 7:47

“Wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Mark 14:9b

I write this for all of us who have walked with Jesus for years. Those of us who know His Word, who live for Him, who teach others, who are far from the moment of our conversion. Do we love Him?

Have we neatened our love and packaged it so that it is civil and presentable and contained? When was the last time our love made anyone else uncomfortable? When was the last time our expression of our love for Christ caused anyone to recoil or to react in any way?

Heed Jesus’ warning about these times, “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:12-13 ESV

Dust off your alabaster jar. Let down your hair. Talk with the only One who knows the state of your mind and soul. Read these stories and put yourself in the room with Jesus. Are you with the crowd or are you weeping at His feet?

The intent of the discomfort isn’t to shame you or to send you running, it’s to bring you to His feet where you, too, are welcome, forgiven, and deeply loved.

The answer matters, loved ones, even after decades of following Him, He still asks, “Do you love me?”

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1 Comment

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  1. A couple of nights each month, I am in a room full of women who “have been forgiven much.” Their joy and expressed love in a maximum security prison speaks to me each and every time. And … I can see them as women who could be my next door neighbors and shopping friends in spite of the many tragic reasons for their incarcerations — because they are truly forgiven. That Jesus can no longer see their sins explains why I can spend that time with them without a judgmental attitude. We end each session with that PDA, and there’s nothing sweeter.