Bulletin Articles

Bulletin Articles

The ground is level at the foot of the cross

In Luke 18:10-13, Jesus tells the following parable: Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’

Self-righteousness can be so ugly and dangerous. The Pharisees and Jewish leaders were the poster child for this in the Bible, but it continues to ensnare us 2000 years later. Notice in Luke 18:9 why Jesus told this parable: …for those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt.

We live in a cancel culture where those who are deemed to have acted or spoken in an unacceptable manner are ostracized, boycotted or shunned. Juxtaposing this secular trend with Christianity exposes the ignorance of such an attitude. Foundational to the Gospel and Christian living are the concepts of humility and grace. By grace through faith we are saved; not of ourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast (Eph. 2:8,9).

The Pharisees, like so many today, were quick to judge, cast out, and even stone (John 8) those to whom they felt superior. They trusted in their supposed right thinking and behaving, storing up for themselves righteousness in their own eyes, all the while failing to see their need for God’s mercy and their own sinfulness.

Lest we assume this was only a problem amongst Jewish leaders, let us examine ourselves. Who do we identify more with- the Pharisee- storing up for ourselves religious activity and checking spiritual boxes while looking down on others who don’t think or behave like us; or the tax collector- too ashamed to even lift our eyes to the Lord knowing that we are sinners who can only be saved through the mercy of God.

While we never condone sin and unrighteousness, there is a sense in which Christians should be the most tolerant people on earth because we know where we came from and what we deserve. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift (2 Cor. 9:15). The ground is level at the foot of the cross.