In the middle of the 18th chapter of Luke, Jesus tells a parable for those "who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt." Through the parable, He shows us two big problems for Christians: 1) thinking we're already good enough, and 2) looking down on others for their shortcomings.
When we grow as Christians - as our faith becomes stronger, as our prayers become more attuned to God's will, and as our knowledge of Scripture and theology expands - we naturally feel good about the progress we make as disciples. Hopefully, this growth leads us to become more like Jesus, as becoming more Christ-like is the goal of Christian discipleship. In fact, as we grow and as our faith grows, we should give thanks to God for making us who we are. It is good to recognize that holiness is a gift. The problems begin to arise when we become complacent and satisfied with who we are, when we feel we've no need for further growth, and when we convince ourselves that the growth we have had as disciples came about only through our own hard work.
In the parable from Luke 18, Jesus shows us two prayers. The first is from a Pharisee who prays, "God, I thank you that I am not like other people," and he goes on to list the people he's glad to not be. His prayer reflects that the Pharisee is happy with where he is and what he's doing, and there's no hint of a desire to change or become better.
The second prayer, however, is from a tax collector who, according to Jesus, "would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!'" This man, the tax collector, knew he wasn't who he needed to be, and he showed a desire for God's mercy and for a second chance. Jesus said because of the tax collector's humility, he "went down to his home justified."
As Christians who are forgiven by God, it can be easy to remain who we are, to continue doing what we already know how to do, and to look down on others if they don't live out their discipleship the way we do. In this parable, Jesus calls us to continually pray for God to make us more holy rather than being satisfied with who we are. We are to give God free reign to make us more and more like Him.
Rev. Michael Hood is the pastor of Barnwell United Methodist Church in Barnwell.
|Barnwell 45 District||Visit|
|Barnwell City Website||Visit|
|Barnwell County Arts Council||Visit|
|Barnwell County Chamber of Commerce||Visit|
|Barnwell County Government||Visit|
|Barnwell County Library||Visit|
|Barnwell County SC Virtual Museum||Visit|
|Big 7 Association||Visit|
|Blackville Municipal Website||Visit|
|Blackville-Hilda School District 19||Visit|
|CodeRed Alert System||Visit|
|Edisto Research and Education Center||Visit|
|JDA - Jefferson Davis Academy||Visit|
|Salkehatchie Arts Center||Visit|
|South Carolina National Heritage Corridor||Visit|
|The Circle Theatre||Visit|
|Thoroughbred Country – Regional Tourism Organization||Visit|
|Town of Williston||Visit|
|Williston-Elko School District 29||Visit|
No blogs have been published.