All Equal before God
by Andy Cokayne 19 July 2022
Karen and I read a booklet through Lent titled 'Live Lent Embracing Justice' by Isabelle Hamley. We found it very challenging, and the thought that follows is based on the Thursday reading for week 3 'Equal before God'.
In our passage from Luke 18 Jesus tells a story 'The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector', where he compares and contrasts two characters. He contrasts those who think they know how to do good, with those who do not. The Pharisee prides himself on his practice of giving money, and fasting. All good things, but he practices them as a way to make himself worthy, rather than as a response to God's grace. When our giving and good deeds lead to pride and superiority, it excludes and diminishes others.
The tax-collector knows himself to be in need of God, his seeking after God leaves space for others, equally inadequate and equally in need of God. He belongs to a group where all others are invited. Whereas the Pharisee sees himself as part of a select group, from which those who do not measure up are excluded, looked down upon, and treated as less worthy.
When we promote ourselves we should also be aware of who gets left in the wake. Yet when we exercise humility, everyone gets drawn along and encouraged.
When we consider ourselves special because we call ourselves 'Christian', then think of Jesus. We read in Philippians 2 v 5-11 'Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, .... he humbled himself.' We can all easily fall into the same trap, as the Pharisee, rather than knowing our true place before our Heavenly Father like the despised Tax Collector, we are all equal before God.
Song : Way maker
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Lord Jesus, you humbled yourself; please free me from the desire of always being right, from the need to impress and from the longing to be praised by others. Amen. (from 'Encounter with God' 18th March 2022)