Jesus also told this parable to people who were sure of their own goodness and despised everybody else.” (Luke 18:9, GNB)

The beginning of this parable in Luke is like a slap in the face to those of us from the evangelical tradition because if we’re honest with ourselves, we are not the lowly tax collector in this parable, we are the Pharisee.  We would like to think that we are not the Pharisee, but all too often, we definitely are.  We like to weigh in on whether or not Obama is a Christian, based on our analysis from afar, forgetting that it is not our place to judge the state of his heart, but to love him, indeed we are specifically commanded to pray for him!

We basically sound exactly like the Pharisee: ““The Pharisee stood apart by himself and prayed, ‘I thank you, God, that I am not greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer, like everybody else. I thank you that I am not like that tax collector over there.” (Luke 18:11, GNB)

Yep, that is us.  We set ourselves apart from everyone else, because of course we are holier than they and do not want to be contaminated by association with them.  And yes, our prayers, if we are honest, run along the lines of this Pharisee: “There but for God’s grace go I, I would be exactly like that tax collector.”  This sounds good, but what we’re really doing is saying, “I thank you that I am not like that tax collector over there.

Sinners know that they are sinners.  They come with humility.  We evangelicals come with self-righteousness.  Jesus condemned this attitude again and again.  “Go and learn what this means, “I desire compassion and not sacrifice, for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matt 9.13)

Sinners.  That is us.