Friday, 6 August 2021
Title: A Parable for the ”Me” generation.
By: Ps Cheng Cheung
Luke 18:13 ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’
Do such ideas sound familiar: “Loving yourself is the greatest love of all”; “I need to feel good about myself”; “I have to buy that product because I am worth it”; “I owe it to myself to reward myself in this way.” ?
This is common speech of the “me” generation.
Sadly, some popular preachers join this trend by saying “Your problem is not sin or your relationship with God, but your failure to take your place as God’s sons and daughters on planet earth. This is your entitlement and God’s blessing! Claim your rights.”
What we believe and feel about ourselves is obviously important. But God’s way of giving significance to our “selves” is completely different from the world’s. Only when God is truly seen for who He is, can we see ourselves for who we are. Meaning comes only when life is theocentric, not egocentric.
Are we able to see ourselves for who we are?
The parable of the pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18: 9-14) starts with this interesting preface: Verse 9 Jesus also told this parable to some who were confident that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else.
From the context, it would seem that Jesus knew that there were those in his audience who could not see themselves for who they were – the foundation of their self-confidence was themselves, not God. Such self-confidence is a dangerous delusion. Pharisaism, and its modern day cousins – religiosity, new age dogma and humanism – cannot remove our guilt before God and therefore give us peace with Him.
What were the pharisee’s blind spots?
He had an inflated sense of self. He was proud and self-centered. He was blind to his real position before a holy God. He also had contempt for others not like him.
He had a deflated sense of God. It showed because his prayer lacked praise, petition or confession. One did not get the sense he was aware of God’s presence.
He had a distorted sense of values. His focus was on his works, not on his character.
Even in God’s presence, he could not examine beneath the surface of his own life, to see who he really was. Are we able to go beneath the surface to see ourselves with all our shortcomings as God sees us?
The reputation of tax collectors was the total opposite of pharisees. They were thought to be traitors to their own people, corrupt personally and unclean religiously and therefore shunned by the respectable.
What was his posture as he approached God?
He stood at a distance, on the fringes because he felt totally unworthy before God. He would not even look up to heaven, the body language of guilt, but beat his breast, saying ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ He demonstrated humility, brokenness and repentance.
By this, he showed he knew that in God’s presence, there cannot be pretence. He offered no excuses, for this would be futile. He sought atoning mercy from God and received that.
Jesus concluded the parable with ”I tell you that this man went down to his home j͟u͟s͟t͟i͟f͟i͟e͟d͟ rather than the Pharisee.”_ Due to the tax collector’s sincerity and God’s grace, He had not only forgiven the tax collector, but had declared him r͟i͟g͟h͟t͟e͟o͟u͟s͟ and p͟l͟a͟c͟e͟d͟ h͟i͟m͟ i͟n͟ a͟ r͟i͟g͟h͟t͟ r͟e͟l͟a͟t͟i͟o͟n͟s͟h͟i͟p͟ with H͟i͟m͟.
My Prayer today
Heavenly Father, I thank you that You look at the attitude of my heart whenever I come into Your presence.
Make my motives pure and keep my hands clean that I might be fit for Your use. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.