Do you ever wonder why you often look down your nose at others who maybe don’t have it quite together as you do; who don’t dress like or talk like or associate with the people you do? Do you ever catch yourself and wonder, Why do I do that? Or possibly, do you always feel guilty, inadequate, or joyless when you are around people who are morally superior to you, who have it more together, who seem to give more of their time and money? Do you ever wonder, Why do I let myself be bothered?
In Luke 5, the Pharisees found the behavior of Jesus, who was eating and drinking with tax collectors, to be distasteful. Jesus was, so far, a rabbi in good standing with the religious community. But this conduct was threatening that good standing. Jesus was in, but He was associating with those who were out.
“Why do you eat with and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” they asked the disciples.
Luke doesn’t want you to miss the irony, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” answered Jesus. In other words, they accused Jesus of eating and drinking with sinners, but it’s only sinners who can repent.
The religious leaders were calling tax collectors, “sinners,” but recognizing that you are a sinner with nothing good in and of yourself was the one thing that made the tax collectors fit for salvation, and it was the one thing the religious leaders lacked.
So back to my original questions: Have you ever wondered why you feel inadequate and joyless with those who are morally superior to you or look down your nose at those who don’t quite cut it the way you do?
If you base your relationship with God in what you do or your behavior, then you’ll likely feel guilty, inadequate, or joyless when you are around people who are morally superior than you, who have things more together, who seem to more give of their time and money.
And then, everything you do in response will be guilt-based; so you can feel better about yourself and relieve your conscience.
Or, you completely give up and say, “I can’t do this religious thing anymore.”
But if you live believing that grace is what gets you in—based on what Jesus did, not on what you do—then you’ll be quick to rejoice in the goodness of others and you’ll labor to honor God with your behavior out of thankfulness and joy, not out of guilt or to feel better about yourself.
Let’s answer the second question.
If you believe what gets you in is based on what you do and who you are associated with, then you’ll always look down your nose at those who don’t quite cut it the way you do. Why does that happen? Because if you base your worth on what you do and your behavior, then that is also how you will find worth in other people. When your relationship with God is not based on grace, then hardly anything else in life will be either.
BibleMesh aims to help people understand the big picture as well as important facts of the Bible. The first BibleMesh resource is “The Biblical Story,” a course that presents Scripture as a cohesive narrative of God’s work in the world from Genesis to Revelation. It utilizes an interactive quizzing tool that helps people remember what they have learned. And finally, it includes a social networking platform which will allow pastors and church leaders to host their own online Bible studies and contribute their own resources. Forthcoming content will include courses in Biblical Greek and Hebrew.