Utter extravagance. I look around at this church made of stone and gold and the most beautiful variety of colors. I admire the sculptures of Mary and Joseph and of Jesus on the cross, and I stand in awe over every intricate detail that went into telling the story of redemption and Love here. “God is light,” the architect said, as he covered this building with stained glass windows. Sunlight tinted with blues, greens, reds and yellows floods in, and I know that the Lord must be pleased with this place.
I think about all of the time and money that must have gone into creating and building something like this. It’s breathtaking, extravagant, over the top, maybe even a little bit reckless.
The architect Gaudí had been working on this church for forty-three years before his sudden death that prevented him from finishing his masterpiece. There’s something about this Yahweh God that would lead an architect to devote decades to building such an extravagant and sacred and holy place of worship that might just honor Him, and that might just give us a small glimpse of eternity.
It reminds me of the woman with the alabaster jar of perfume, and her extravagance in the presence of Jesus. The Scriptures tell us she was a sinful woman, who didn’t have much. She had heard that Jesus was eating at the Pharisees’ house, and wanting to see Him, touch Him, and somehow thank Him, she goes and meets Him there. I imagine her overflowing with excitement and anticipation, looking around at what she could bring for Him, and then landing on the most expensive item she owned. As soon as she sees Jesus, she falls before Him and begins to weep. Her tears wet His feet, so she wipes them dry with her hair and she kisses them. Then she takes her alabaster jar and she empties it at His feet. In the face of Jesus, she is completely overcome with affection, and desperately tries to somehow express her adoration, her love, her gratitude, her worship, there at her Savior’s feet. She pours out every drop of perfume with reckless abandon, thankful to at least have something to give back to Him.
There’s something about this Creator God that invokes this pour-it-all-out, give-it-all-away kind of love and extravagance. There’s something about this Jesus of Nazareth that would make a woman who had “lived a sinful life” (Luke 7:37) feel safe enough to weep in front of Him, even while the Pharisees gawked at her.
I think about the heart of Jesus and how this kind of response is truly only fitting. His heart of compassion and purity, His character that is utterly unwavering in goodness and truth and mercy, His promise of an eternity that will be more majestic and extravagant than anything our human hearts could ever dream up. The fact that He is love itself. The fact that we have yet to even see this Creator God face to face, yet our breath is taken away with simply a glimpse at what He’s created. He is beauty, goodness, abundance, joy, love, light, and hope in a world that is often filled with darkness, scarcity, pain and sorrow. He is wholly deserving, and He is more than worthy.
I think about my own life and what extravagant worship could look like for me. I’m not an architect and I don’t have an alabaster jar that I could pour out at His feet, but I do have a heart I can fully devote and a life I can give away. I have His book that I can read and meditate on, so that I might know His heart and His desires. I can love with a selfless love and forgive with a radical forgiveness. I can give away my money and take care of the least, the last, and the lost. I can glorify Him through singing and writing and hospitality and surrender. I can pour my heart out at His feet and I can hold Him always as my first Love. So I’ll give it all away and I’ll pour it all out in extravagant recklessness, thankful to at least have something to give back to Him.