Disillusioned or Deluded?
Which group do you identify with in Jesus parables: the one that was tired of empty religious rhetoric or the one that was convinced of its own righteousness? Don’t answer too quickly.
I believe most of us can sympathize with the first group. Who hasn’t endured the condescending attitude of the spiritual superstar, quick to criticize, and slow to admit wrong? Someone calls us brother, but speaks against us in private. We try to take the high road, but nothing we do seems to be good enough. It becomes obvious we can never be good enough, and even when we are there is some good we failed to perform. It’s hard being a sinner, but much more difficult living with no hope of redemption; at least in the eyes of those making the rules. Even if we know the Lord, and aren’t duped into thinking we are hopeless sinners, we can still be robbed of our peace.
Since we have felt the barb of the self-righteous, we cannot imagine ourselves standing with them. Surely we wouldn’t have condemned the sinner who anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume, or grabbed a stone to kill the adulterous woman. We wouldn’t have complained because a man with a withered hand was healed on the Sabbath, or kicked a man born blind out of the synagogue because we couldn’t imagine God blessing someone we believed to be cursed.
But we really must ask: are there others who might see us differently? How about our cold behavior toward the fast-food cashier when we grab a meal after church? Is it hard for you to believe someone with political views contrary to your own loves the Lord? Would we be as sure of our righteousness if our secret sins were posted somewhere for the whole world to see? Alright, it might be true some of us behave better, make wiser decisions and have a better internal moral compass. But where would we be had we not been taught?
I don’t mean to suggest there isn’t such a thing as a righteous life. If that were true, Noah wouldn’t have found favor from God and we wouldn’t be here today. We should strive for a righteous life and seek to serve God with all of our heart, mind and soul. It’s just that Jesus’ parables have a way of keeping us honest, if we have ears to hear and eyes to see.