Thursday, October 20, 2016

This Sunday @ Locust Hill UMC::: EXALTED

Ingrained in our humanity is this idea that we are rewarded for good behavior and punished for bad behavior. This Sunday's gospel reading comes from Luke 18 where Jesus tells a parable about two people praying at the temple. The first person is a very righteous, disciplined Pharisee praying with his head held high and then the second is a sinful, tax collector on his knees begging for mercy in light of his sinfulness. Jesus poses a question, "Which person is justified before God?" Now if we take our naturally ingrained idea of rewarding the good and punishing the bad by that calculation we come to the conclusion that it is the Pharisee that is justified and therefore should be rewarded. Jesus challenges this notion and tell us that it is not the righteous Pharisee that is justified before God but the sinful tax collector. We love this quality about God when it comes to our own sinfulness and we abhor when it seems that others are given mercy rather than punishment for their sins. What might even challenge us more is that God hears both their prayers. We just might reminded that God's love is not limited but is inexhaustible. There is no doubt that we are naturally defensive of our own sinfulness because we fear the punishment that might loom. Our hope is that we might discover a God who does not condemn us but much more pours out his wondrous grace among us.