I’ve been thinking a lot about the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14). I’m sure most of us read the Pharisee’s prayer “God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector,” and we bristle with offense. How dare he?
We know that we are not like this Pharisee. “God, I thank you that I am not like this Pharisee.”
We know, those of us who have warmed more than a few pews on more than a few Sundays, that God accepts anyone who comes to Him through His Son Jesus Christ. No holds barred. Right?
And yet, all of us seem to have lines drawn somewhere that place the other person beyond the pale. We won’t use the word “unforgivable,” but it lingers in our minds like the smell of stale fish in a trashcan.
Where’s your line?
I am an adulteress. I am addicted to pornography. I am a gossiper.
Have I crossed your line yet?
I am envious. I am a thief. I am a drug addict.
You see, there seems to be this idea floating around in some people’s heads that some sins are worse than others.
I am gay. I had an abortion. I have murdered.
There seems to be this idea floating around in some people’s heads that some people need to clean up their lives before they come to Christ.
I have cursed. I have lied. I am an alcoholic.
There seems to be this idea floating around in some people’s heads that spiritual pride is not a sin any longer.
I am a coward. I am a pedophile. I am a bigot.
There seems to be this idea floating around in some people’s heads that the blood of Jesus Christ doesn’t mean much when put against some sins, that some sins cross the line. God, though, has a different agenda for us, and it may not match up with what other people think. God’s greatest blessing is reserved for the one who does not look around at other people and compare or judge, but only looks at his own heart in light of the cross and says “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
I am under the mercy. I am forgiven. I am redeemed.