Beat my breast before the Lord

Often times I think that we, the Church, do more to push people away from Jesus than anything else that this world has to offer.  We often put ourselves in high positions, so sure of our own salvation, but then put heavy yokes on others that they can’t possibly bear.  We wallow in our self righteousness and drown others in our judgement.  We spend so much time convincing ourselves and others that we aren’t sinners, but somehow forget that it was the sinners that Jesus came to save.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’  “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” -Luke 18:9-14 NIV
Jesus told this parable in relation to the religious leaders of His day who felt like many Christians do now: like we have it all figured out.  Like we’re somehow better than sinners.  Why wouldn’t we be – we belong to the church, after all!  I think sometimes we become so comfortable in our faith that we feel that showing up to church on Sunday and throwing our tithe in the offering plate is what God requires of us.  And, thus, meeting our requirements to God we feel justified and comfortable passing judgement on our brothers next to us who maybe have it less figured out than we do.
I contend, friends, that we may not have it figured out at all.  We’ve ignored the things that Jesus actually said and asked of us in lieu of our own guidelines and rules.  Our own way to righteousness and salvation.  Our legalism.  Jesus often had piercing words for the religious, and the following is no exception:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. – Matthew 7:1-5 NIV
Sometimes we, the Church, need to look inward and acknowledge that we don’t have it all figured out.  We need to understand that we are all sinners saved by grace, not our standing in our church.  That our own standards of measurement and means of salvation are nothing to God.  If we could just look before the Lord again humbly and accept the gift that he has given us in His great mercy, maybe, just maybe, we could do a better job of sharing the gospel with others and making them feel welcome in the Church of Christ.
Lord, help me to remain humble.   Convict me of my sin.  I know that it is by nothing I can do to deserve what you have offered me on the cross, but it is by your grace alone that I am saved.  Help me to lead others to your saving grace and to welcome them into your Church.
    • Strange Currencies
    • November 21st, 2012

    very well written Steven.

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