God loves sinners… do you?
We need to work hard at loving all people - the good and the bad
Country and Western movies are fun. I remember watching them on Saturday afternoons when I was young. I honestly thought that there was a time when the world was black and white. It was while watching these movies that I learnt that the world has always been colourful, it just took a while to work out how to capture it on film!
In Country and Western movies, it’s always obvious who the goodies and baddies were. The goodies rode the white horse with the white hat and the white jacket. The baddies? They had the black gear on the black horse. From the beginning until the end it was always obvious who was who.
In Luke 18:9-14 it seems obvious. The Pharisee was a good guy. The Tax Collector was a bad guy. Finished.
Not according to Jesus.
This parable is all about what it means to be justified before God. It’s a legal term referring to a declaration of innocence before a judge. Who is the one who goes home justified before God? It’s not the good guy. It’s the bad guy who cries out to God for mercy. The good guy was trusting in his own goodness. He had too small a view of God and too high a view of himself. The bad guy recognised he was a bad guy – and knew that the only chance he had of standing before God was based on His mercy. The Tax Collector knew that he was lost. The Pharisee was lost too… but didn’t realise it.
Being justified is based on where our confidence is placed. Is it in you or is it in Jesus?
Verse 9 is a key verse to the Parable. Jesus tells this parable to some who were confident in their own righteousness and looked down on others: people just like the Pharisee. The problem for us is that we unknowingly pray a prayer like the Pharisee. We say: “Thank you God that I’ve responded to you like the Tax Collector. Thank you that I’m not like other people: like Pharisees and other religious nuts.” When we pray like that we need to be reminded not to be self-righteous.
Where is your confidence?
How do you treat the ‘sinner’ that comes into your youth group/church?
How do you treat the self-righteous religious person that comes into your midst?