The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’” vss. 11-12Luke 18:9-12
While there are literally hundreds of ways in which we can differentiate ourselves from others, there are a couple of categories that transcend even race and skin color. Jesus describes them as the righteous and sinners, and there’s no question about which group he had empathy for. Given his preference for sinners, we might expect that these would be the people who would be most numerous among his followers. Of course that’s not the case. The righteous among us have incredible influence and power and pretty much dominate most congregations. In fact, pastors and other leaders have encouraged their takeover with their emphasis on generous giving, spiritual practices, and righteous living. Unfortunately this pharisaic dominance has been accompanied by a decline in the number of sinners who have been able to find a church home among us. As in Jesus’ day such persons are outsiders and feel totally unworthy to participate simply because their lives are such a mess. And when the righteous fall from their pedestals, one of the first things they think they have to do is leave the church. What a blessing it is when the sinners who have remained in our congregation embrace such persons and shower them with the mercies of our loving Lord.
Thought for the Day: What happens when sinners dominate a congregation?