I had the blessing of getting to meet with a dear mentor and friend this morning before church. I was going to the 11am service, so we met during the previous service. We found each other and headed to a room to talk. Communion was about to be served, so all of the deacons were lined up with their trays in hand outside of the sanctuary doors. One of the deacons, with his tray of juice in hand, turned around and struck another deacon’s tray of juice with his! The innocent deacon’s tray still had all of the little cups in place, but the other tray was a complete mess. Both of their jaws dropped and they froze. The offending deacon said, “Oh, man! Did I get it on you?” The innocent deacon, with his hands up, looked at his shirt and said, “Uh… Yeah you got it on me!” I didn’t know what to do but laugh… and then I so clearly saw a snapshot of the church in that moment… Our formalities and facades are killing us! The formality and grandeur of the Lord’s Supper was just shattered before my eyes. The behind-the-scenes picture was not as pretty as the deacons streaming in with Jesus’ body and blood on silver trays. We put on a facade of perfection… “Come to Jesus and you will be perfect and no longer have any problems or struggles, just like me.” This is why people avoid the church… because they don’t belong in perfect-people church. We would rather keep up our image of perfection than, in humility and honesty, meet the lost and the broken where they are. People need to see broken people walking with Jesus. Not a Pharisee looking down on the tax collector and thanking God for not making him like that sinner.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”