Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
Every Sunday, we lift our hands up and praise God. That’s the new Christian idea of worship. We give our excellence in setting up the church program, we give our talents into the singing of preselected and well-practiced songs, we show the people from the pulpit and in the small-groups what we’ve learned in the Bible about living a safe and comfortable Christian life.
It almost looks like we have something to offer to God.
The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself:
‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people:
swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.‘
We’ve become a front for something that is not real. An extravagant façade of nothingness. Instead of being honest to ourselves, the church people are becoming experts in hiding their dirt. Therefore, we worship, we sing and we pray to ourselves. Denial of who we really are hinders our religious acts from ever arriving in heaven.
But the tax collector, standing some distance away,
was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven,
but was beating his breast, saying,
‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’
People have nothing good to offer and deserve therefore nothing good in return. Unless it sinks into our minds that all we did, while God in His love was reaching after us, was to mockingly and violently reject Him, we will never come to that place where total humility opens up our hearts for Him to clean up the rest of our mess from within.
You see, many believers don’t know this, but there is really nothing – NADA – that we have, that we did not receive from God (1 Cor. 4:7), yet many behave as if we’ve achieved it all by ourselves. Those who haven’t been humbled yet and broken by God yet, are in a dangerous place of acting holy, ending up as whitewashed tombs.
“I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other;
for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:10-14 NASB)
Someone who was truly saved will be humbled by God’s immediate and extreme grace. For they have realized the price that was paid. A saved person understands the exchange that shouldn’t have taken place – a perfectly innocent person (Jesus Christ) in the place of a completely guilty and terrible criminal (YOU).
How then can you think yourself worthy?
Every Sunday, we are really just proclaiming, “You can have it all… My empire of dirt.” The difference is our stance – are we proud about it or are we allowing ourselves to be broken because of the reality of it. The pain that follows as we beat our chest (because of that good hurt within) will be the first thing that becomes real inside a whole world of charades.
Show God, show the world your empire of dirt and instead of standing there with your chest out and mouth wide open, break down on your knees and weep, saying sorry for all the things you’ve done wrong to Him and the people around you and wait – wait for the rain of grace to pour over and in you.
What have I become… You can have it all, you can have it all, my empire of dirt…
And then – and only then – watch what God will do with a handful of dirt (Gen. 2:7). Accept what Jesus Christ has done and follow Him, then you’ll see what it means to be an entirely new creation in Him!