Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Third Option

This parable has been on my mind lately.

"He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."" - Luke 18:9-14 ESV

Parables are interesting things. They are stories designed to illustrate one point. They aren't accounts of events. If you read too far into them you may miss the point. Verse nine says that Jesus told this story to 'some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt' to drive home one idea.

Still. 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' rings in my head. This man won't get 'close' he stands far away and says this.

We need mercy but we also need proximity. The Pharisee was close but far away in his thinking and that is so dangerous.

This is a story and it illustrates a point. Don't judge with contempt because God doesn't think that way but as I sit here I see a place available that neither of the men in the story had. A close place where mercy has been and is received.

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace..." - Ephesians 2:13-14a ESV

The tax collector went home and back to his life but we have a new home and a new life.

I cry for mercy today also. I need it but I am not beating my breast. I do lift my eyes. My thoughts are not introspective. I worship because I know there is mercy for me. There was mercy and there Is mercy.

Jesus' blood has brought me near. Knowledge of my depravity is gravity but I am not stuck on the ground. I worship and fly in an aerodynamic of faith.

Thank you for mercy God! Thank you. Let contempt be far from us as we draw near. We don't want to be close but miss your heart and we don't want to be far away because of introspection. Draw us. We want to see your glory. We worship you. You are near to us now and we are so grateful.


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