But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’” vs. 13Luke 18:13-14
While Jesus frequently lashed out at the Pharisees in his parables, he didn’t believe they were bad people. On the contrary, his love for them was deep, but he feared that their arrogance would ultimately leave them isolated from God. The more they trusted in their own righteousness, the less likely they were to experience the life-changing grace that is the true salvation of all people. Unfortunately that arrogance continues to be a hallmark of religious people, and actually seems to be growing in the Christian community. So many believers have such confidence in their ethical, moral, and cultural choices that they can scarcely tolerate those who fall outside their strict behavioral boundaries. They’re quick to judge, often on the flimsiest evidence, and slow to forgive, which is why so many people have come to prefer the company of sinners to that of the self-perceived righteous. They find more mercy from their brothers and sisters on barstools than from those in pews. That’s why people love Jesus. There’s no pretending with him, and he adores the lost and the broken. It is so good to come to worship just as we are, confess our sins, and ask for God’s mercy. And if we think we have no sin, we can actually just skip church and do whatever we please–and the sinners probably won’t miss us at all!
Thought for the Day: How often do I need God’s mercy?