Saturday, November 20, 2010
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14
Too often, in my experience, people leave church communities they have loved because things aren't like they used to be. The worship or the kids, female clergy rather than male, firing of staff - whatever, all things the way they used to be. My experiences over the past year is that people want the world to change to include them, but not their church to include others.
The Pharisee, faithful and religious like the way it was. He was at the top of the heap, he wasn't sinning in any way the faith defined and he knew how and when to pray. And yet, Jesus tells us that it is the honesty and vulnerability of the tax collector, the humility of one who hasn't met the standards, which is where righteousness and God's forgiveness are found. Not in the way it used to be but in the way of open hearts to God alone.
Today, I want to remember how easy it is to compare ourselves and judge one another and our churches. The truth is we all fail and we all sin, so why don't we all open our arms to others and let God do the judging. Today I want to let God to all the righteousness and I would like to be vulnerable and honest in every thing.