"Jesus stands as a towering figure in history because all across time, he has forced history’s view of true character to bend to his own character rather than vice versa. He showed how love could be far more just, true, sacrificial, and by the way more interesting and complex than mere approval. It took a God-man to be able to do that." -Tom Gilson
Here is a story we look at frequently at Big Life C.C.:
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I 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 all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
It is no surprise that we find our own ideas and thoughts and beliefs to be good... we have spent our lives building our ideas through experience, trials, and errors. We believe our own understanding of truth... and we might even justify our decisions, positions and politics as being "good".
However, Jesus cautions us strongly about living in confidence of our own sense of what is good. Here in Luke, the religious man describes making some admirable life choices, and feels entitled to declare himself 'good' about his life as a result. However, he fails to acknowledge his deepest nature as broken, lost, and blind. He fails to fall on his dependence on God and instead lists his own "good behaviors."
There is a truth deeper than what we think, or what we do... it is what we are in our very being. It is shown only in relationship to Truth in the form of Jesus. We are created as children of God, in God's own image, like Jesus... yet we bend and twist from that towards greed, selfishness, vanity, and disdain towards others.
The tax collector reveals this self-knowledge and takes a posture towards God and self that Jesus says is "just." He is not concerned with what the other guy got right OR wrong. He is only consumed with his own knowledge of self, and his shortcomings, as well as deep reverence for God's righteousness.
The ONLY posture of TRUTH, the deepest truth, is one of absolute reverent, dependence on God. Over and over the Bible calls us to humility first... and over and over humans come up with a different answer to elevate ourselves. The only posture that is righteous is that of humility. And in humility we find ourselves in a common posture as all humankind... on our knees before God in worship, heartfelt acknowledgement of our need for God's mercy, and grateful love.
Grace offers redemption, but grace is only found in the fullness of Truth.
"For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” - Jesus
1. How do you elevate your own ideas? How do you contrast yourself to others?
2. If we live out this Jesus teaching, what is our righteous posture / attitude towards God? Towards other people?