Have you ever considered how privileged you are to be born in America, a hard working country built on a solid biblical foundation. Every day people are dying to get into this country because we are the best. Aren’t you proud to be an American?
I don’t want to suggest that patriotism is inherently evil, but for me it stands as a distinct illustration of narcissism. I once asked a guy if he thought America was the best country in the world. He said, “YES!” I then asked him if he thought his state was the best in the union, his city was the best in the state, if his neighborhood was the best in the city, and if his house was the best on the block. To everything he answered, “YES!” I then asked him if he thought he was the best person in his family. Reluctantly he answered, “yes.”
But why mention patriotism? This is a theology blog.
Have you ever thought that Christianity is the best religion in the world, that your denomination was the better than the rest, that your church was the greatest, etc. I think you get my picture.
In Luke 18 Jesus tells a parable about two people: a very religious man and a tax collector.
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14 esv
I’m sure you know this story already. You’ve probably heard this passage preached with great authority from the pulpit. I don’t intend to preach at you. I want to challenge you, especially this week as we consider prayer, to examine your prayer life. When was the last time you prayed like someone who needed a savior?
“Of Father, I am completely unworthy of your grace and your mercy. These traits are not common in our human nature, and when we receive these unmerited favors, they tend to go to our head. Forgive us for thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. Help us to consider where we came from and be wise in how we treat others, taking on the example of Christ who did not consider it beneath Himself to be made lower than the angels. Amen.”