by Joseph M. Stowell
Joseph Stowell's writing style is as captivating as his speaking style. Loving Christ presents a gripping challenge to examine ourselves to see if we truly love Christ. Beginning with the story of Simon the Pharisee that is recorded in Luke 7, he points us in the direction of increased love for Christ.
Loving Christ is not the same as being religiously correct. Simon the Pharisee was in many respects a "correct" religious person. On the other hand the "fallen" woman who wept and wiped the feet of Jesus with her hair was, in the eyes of current religious practice, religiously incorrect. But Jesus commended her and censored Simon. Stowell observes that love for Christ does not consist of duty but devotion.
The prostitute at Jesus' feet did not need to be told that she was a sinner. She needed forgiveness, and Jesus offered that. The author points out that our devotion to Christ directly relates to our awareness of forgiveness. "Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."
Stowell proceeds to show that true love for Christ will exhibit itself in love for others. Sometimes this love will take us to the unlovely-such as this fallen woman-for the love of Christ knows no unreachable depths.
Like Simon, all of us have an element of Pharisee in us. It is so easy to become proud because we say and do the religiously correct thing with the religiously correct people. We may, as Simon, mistake religious correctness for spirituality. We must guard against this.
One of the writer's most striking comments summarizes his message: "Love is our validating testimony to a watching world that we are His followers."