Thursday, June 14th, 2012
Sinners v. Self-Righteous Christians (Part 1)
All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus' words, acknowledged that God's way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and the experts in the law rejected God's purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.
Luke 7:29-30 (NIV)
Luke chapter 7 presents several contrasts of wrongful sinners and 'righteous' Jews--the ones who were raised in the faith, revered by their peers, followed by others, and dressed for success.
Millennia later, I grew up as a cultural Christian in a church of affluence. We had movers, shakers, dreamers, and schemers: worldly leaders who spoke the right words in the right places.
As an adult, I joined the high achievers club: business became my church. In it, I was convinced of my righteousness. I did things the right way and bemoaned the world's incompetence.
I had a lot in common with the Pharisees, scribes, and lawyers of Jesus' time. They bragged about being 'free' sons of Abraham, and I bragged about being a 'good' talent executive. But neither they nor I realized the impossibility of self-righteousness. God wasn't in it, because we weren't in Him.
And without Him, it's impossible to be free or good. Therein, we became hypocrites (see Matthew Chapter 13).
Unfortunately, many Christian leaders seem to be content wearing a similar robe of self-righteousness. They are too schooled to call themselves righteous, because they are careful with their words. However, their actions betray them.
Jesus said it this way: 'But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say?' (Luke 6:46).
Back to the sinners: the ones Jesus came to save. 'For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance' (Matthew 9:13). I believe sinners are closer to salvation than those of us who are proud in our religious rituals--especially 'pick and choose' Bible readers.
God forbid any of us who believe in our own salvation ever hear these words:
'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' (Matthew 7:23). Keep in mind the people hearing those dreadful words consider themselves to be followers of Jesus.
But Jesus denies them.
To Be Continued...
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Sinners v. Self-Righteous Christians series.