Sunday, August 5, 2012

Pharisees & Publicans

10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
KJV Luke 18: 10-13
 This particular parable has always stuck with me when I see people praying loudly in public, or loudly at home in front of relatives they rarely see, and formed much of my opinions over how to have a relationship with God. 

I cannot stand being around people praying loudly in public for most occasions.  Asking a benediction on a meeting or gathering a group of mourners together for comfort after a tragedy are notable exceptions; however, I live in the Midwest.  In the buckle of the bible belt.  I see so many rabid evangelicals praying loudly in public for God to show others the errors of their ways, while ignoring their own faults. 

Yeah, like the guy in Indiana--the pastor of the megachurch that was boinking a girl who was almost forty years younger than him.  Adultery and child abuse are pretty big faults.

Another bunch of examples are in some of the kids I went to public school with.  They constantly bothered me with the "Are you saved?  Come to church with us!"  When I refused, no matter how politely, they always started praying loudly for my soul as I walked away. 

Idiots.  You should have seen some of their behaviors at other times: thoughtlessly cruel, proud, licentious...the list goes on.  I don't know what in the world let them think that I didn't have a relationship with God. 

Pharisees.  The lot of them. 

A relationship with God is supposed to be conducted between the individual and Him.  It's not supposed to be something you trot out into the spotlight to show off that you're a better person than those around you.  Especially not when you're praying for someone's soul, as loudly as you can, while you're dressed like you make a living standing on a corner, flagging down lonely men, and planning to fornicate with a boyfriend/girlfriend later in the evening.

I'm not perfect.  I don't claim to be (quite the opposite, in fact).  I won't pretend I am.  Nor will I make my relationship with God something to be used to bully others, or to persuade them to think I'm better than I am, or than they are. 

I try, very hard, to be like the publican, an individual who quietly admits what they are: a sinner, deeply unworthy of the gift of grace, but grateful and accepting of it regardless.


  1. Amen sister. "...but if you'd prefer a lecture, I've a few very catchy ones prepped...sin and hellfire... one has lepers."

    1. Does it make me a nerd that I instantly recognized the quote?

    2. Yes, but it makes my kind of nerd. So, it's all good.