Jesus told this teaching story:
â€œTwo people went to church to pray, one a Conservative and one a Liberal. The Conservative stood and prayed about herself: LORD, I thank You that I am not like others I know â€“ an abortioner, a homosexual, someone who does evil â€“ or even like that Liberal over there. I fast twice a week and give a tithe to the church.
The Liberal stood over in the corner of the sanctuary. She couldn’t even look up to heaven but bowed her head and said, LORD, have mercy on me because I am a sinner.
Jesus said, I tell you that this Liberal went home forgiven in God’s eyes, not the self-righteous Conservative. For if you raise yourself up, you will be humbled but if you are humble, I will raise you up.â€ Â Â Â Â Â Luke 18:10-14 (my paraphrase)
There are some who read my paraphrase and think I am taking a cheap shot at you. I’m not. I am putting myself into Jesus’ parable and asking, â€œWhat are You trying to teach me today, LORD?â€ The Holy Spirit is taking out His flashlight and shining it into the hidden closets of my life.
It is so easy for me to see sin in other people that is of no temptation to me. It is easy to focus so much on others that I do not see the most awful of sins in God’s eyes â€“ pride. How often do I repent? How often do I come to God with a humble heart and a desire to have every speck of self-righteousness or judgmental attitude or critical spirit wiped out of me?
My recognition of what is sin starts the process of what Jesus calls me to do in this world. The identification of sin and the darkness that surrounds sins just confirms to me how vital it is for me to carry the Light of Jesus Christ and His Good News, unfiltered to others so that they see Jesus in all of His glory.
A label such as Pharisee or Conservative does not make me a disciple of Christ any more than living in a garage makes me a car. Certainly history teaches me that many have called themselves â€œChristianâ€ and done horrific things in Jesus’ name. Jesus told us this would happen:
â€œI have told you these things so that you wonâ€™t abandon your faith. For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. This is because they have never known the Father or me. Yes, Iâ€™m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning.â€ Â Â Â John 16:1-4 (NLT, my emphasis)
To whom did Jesus speak so harshly? It wasn’t the adulterous woman. It wasn’t Judas. It was the church leadership, the ones who thought they had God wrapped up and wore Him proudlylike a medal on their chests proclaiming them the real deal. They weren’t.
Just before this passage in Luke is Jesus’ story of the persistent widow, teaching me I should pray and never give up. I usually think of that passage when I am praying for someone’s need for healing or restoration. Today I am thinking how I should never, ever stop praying for myself. I have so much to learn from my LORD. He is so very willing to teach me â€“ if I will listen and truly hear.
In the Potter’s Hands by Rev. Steve Hill