Picture the scene – a homely middle eastern woman of late antiquity runs out of her house frantically flailing her arms, the rough weave of her woolen head covering flying about. Shouting and screaming, barely able to keep her sandals on her feet amidst the scurrying through the dusty street, her voice rises to its shrillest peaks. Her friends and neighbors, who like herself don’t have a telephone and are neither routinely subject to great thrills and enthusiasms, poke their heads out their doors, with ears perked up at the seeming prospect of exciting news. Their curiosity near boiling, one by one they lay aside their brooms, pitchers, and pestles, encircling her with eyes peeled. Out of her pocket she whips a tiny item, barely visible from a few feet away. Straining and squinting their eyes, they muster all their concentration to no avail, because she is hysterically waving it over head while jumping up and down and expectorating squeals of laughter. When she finally and ever-so-slightly calms down, she stretches out her hand for her friends to see the small silver coin she had been brandishing about — but only for a moment — because as soon she knows they are aware of what happened, she is quickly back at full throttle – bouncing, screaming, jumping and all other actions typically associated with boisterous (and mentally unbalanced) revelry. She had lost one of the ten coins in her possession, and after lighting her lamp, sweeping her house, and searching carefully, she found it. In her excitement and joy upon finding the coin, she could hardly help engaging in the — if we were honest — silly looking behavior just described.
Whether her friends joined in her excitement, or were slightly irritated on account of the interruption in their day, or embarrassed owing to her wild antics, Jesus never lets on. Rather, he gets right to the point:
I tell you: there is joy like this before the angels because one sinner turns… (Luke 15:10)
In other words, get the picture of the wild, screaming, spinning woman swinging a silver coin over her head — then make the quantum leap to recognizing this reflects the truth of what God is like. God’s emotions are neither tame nor placid. When God thinks about weak and broken people who have turned their lives to following Jesus and his kingdom, the response is dramatic, perhaps even “mentally unbalanced.” Maybe its not a perfect picture, but what Jesus is telling us is God’s emotions towards us are infinitely closer to the way the crazy screaming woman feels about finding her lost cost than it seems most Christians feel about the individuals in their lives. Ask yourself, if you had to create a short story illustrating what God is like and how he relates to broken people, would you tell a story about a crazy wild woman? I imagine most of us would not, and some would even recoil at the thought — but Jesus would. And this tells us how far our concept of God is from the concept Jesus held and proclaimed. Until we’re comfortable with a picture of God as a crazy screaming woman, we are not comfortable with the God of Jesus Christ and we have yet to know the intensity of God’s delight in us.