9To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 10″Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood up and prayed about[a] himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13″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.’
14″I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Inside this parable we are showing 2 distinct approaches to how people show their religiosity or relationship with Christ.
Approach 1 is the approach of the pharisee and what I call the “external” or “outside in” approach. Its clearly demonstrated here that his view of obedience is clearly external based. Its clearly comparative to how bad other people are. Much of what he is said is clearly what God wants us to do. However, he even slips something in to the divine will of God when he talks about fasting twice a week. What he is basically saying is look at me. Look at how good I am relative to the dude over here. His obedience is clearly hermatia (missing the mark).
Approach 2 is the approach of the tax collector. This is what I call the “inside up” approach. His deep connection with Jesus and an understanding of the cross allows him to say God have mercy on me. His idea of obedience is something I do for God (inside Up). His obedience is clearly on the mark as he considers himself the biggest sinner out there and understands the depth of his sin. This man constantly considers himself a spiritual beggar.
As I contemplate this I continue to contemplate one of my main issues I have:
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I yearn for a Church that ooozes Christ and the mercy of the cross and reaches younger brother types (parable of the Prodigal Son) and not ones that are full of elder brothers. I yearn for brothers and sister in Christ to come alongside me who understand the depth of their sin and to use this depth of understanding of their sin as the starting point of overcoming their sin.
God have mercy on us all.