Crossing the Line

Prayer-Religion-SorrowI’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.

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Redeeming Brokenness

Read the story of The Broken Pot here. It will open in a new window so that you can easily find your way back here.

I love this modern-day parable, because man, oh man, do I feel like a broken pot. Some of my flaws are evident to anyone who knows me. Some are deeply hidden. I’m sure there are some that only God sees.

What this story exemplifies, and what I believe to the core of my being, is that God uses our flaws in ways that perfect people can’t be used. I am able to say “I know what you mean,” and really know what they mean. I have lusted in the dark hours of the morning. I have murdered in my heart and never felt a moment of regret. I have stolen. I have coveted. I have gossiped. I have been lazy. I have fed a sanctimonious soul with the food of “At least I haven’t done that.”

All of that enables me to go to my neighbor, my friend–even at times my enemy–and say, “I know what you mean.” Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. Forgive us our trespasses. Forgive me. Forgive my trespasses.

And please, God, use them. Use my trespasses to Your glory. Use them to water flowers for Your glory. Use them to help ease the path for someone else, so that they don’t feel so god-forsaken and all alone.

Help me to discover what You’ve known all along–that Your strength is made perfect and complete by my brokenness. You are the Redeemer.