Monday, October 18, 2010

What's in your heart Luke 18:9-14

Jesus told a story of two men who came to the temple to pray, a pharisee and a tax collector. In life men like these 2 are viewed ifferently and likely even see themselves differently. Jesus knows each of us. He knows very well that we each have our own views of ourselves and our own reasons why we might think that we out to come to God in prayer.

Jesus even let's us in on the reasons "why" each man came to pray. The Pharisee came to praise God for making him so great. He concluded with a speech about why he was so great. The tax collector had a reason why he needed to pray in the temple: he was a sinner to came to beg God for mercy.

Why questions are slippery and we look for ways to slide arround them. We look for ways to deflect and hide our sinful motives. But God is fully away of reasons why we need to come to Him that we don't understand and won't even face on our own. In the book Couples in Conflict Ronald Richardson says,

In the garden of Eden God did not ask Adam and Eve “why” they ate the fruit of the tree. God simply asked about the fact of eating. Did they do it? But they responded with “why” answers. They would have loved to debate the “whys” with God...(page 12)
There's a danger in presuming that we truly know what we need from God when we pray. Listen closely to story. Maybe we think we know the reason why each man wanted to come to God and the reason why God might have wanted each man to come to him. In at least one case in the story God's reason is different than those of a human being who came to him.


Ivy said...

Thank you Unlikely, for getting the juices going. I am preaching Sun. at a church that's in conflict and it will be my first time there. You always make me think and I'm grateful.

Unlikely said...

Conflicted churches are a lot like feuding families. Part of moving past the feud is seeing one another as brothers and sisters and not opponents on the opposite sides of a conflict.

The question for me as I look at this reading and think of a feuding church is how will the feuding sides see themselves as brothers and sisters. Moving past conflict means moving beyond two groups to one church again. When one group who sees themselves like the pharisees on the "good" side and the other are like the tax collectors on the "bad" side the situation just seems hopeless.

I'd say preach hope. Remember that we are one body connected to one vine. We are all in need of mercy and forgiveness.
Peace to you.