26th January 2020

‘Us and Them’

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.”
Luke 18:10 (NIV)

We live in an ‘us and them’ world. Every day we hear a group (political, religious, racial, socio-economic) screaming out against another. ‘Us’ are all good and ‘them’ are all bad. Social Media seems to make this worse. Our comments can be published in front of thousands long before we have the chance to think the words through and can reply. Never before have ‘us and them’ been able to yell at each other so quickly and so loudly.

In Luke 18, Jesus tells the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector praying in the temple—the classic us versus them parable. The Pharisee proudly declares: “‘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; I give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner!’” (Luke 18:11-13). Jesus set up the ultimate us/them scenario for his day. The Pharisee is educated, clean cut, and devout. The type you would have wanted at dinner parties, and dream would marry your daughter. The tax collector is the ‘them.’ They collected taxes from their own people for the occupying power, Rome, and were hated.

Yet Jesus ends with the twist: “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:14). The outcome shocked his audience. How could this person, the obvious sinner here, be the ‘justified’ one? Jesus loves to expose what’s going on deep down. There is no us and them. The Pharisee is just as much a sinner as the tax-collector. His sins are less obvious, and, since others can’t see them, it’s easy to point the finger at ‘them’.

While the Pharisee is unwilling to acknowledge his own brokenness or expose his own sinfulness, the tax collector knows his brokenness. We are all broken, and we all have the same healer. It’s not about us-vs-them, it’s just us. It’s hard to judge ‘them’ when we understand they’re really just ‘us.’ We’re all in need of redemption; we are all recipients of God’s mercy; we all have the same Saviour. When we ask God to help us see others as he sees them, we quickly understand there is no ‘them and us,’ there’s just us, in Jesus.

Prayer
Holy Father, you see us as we are, not as we would like to believe we are. We seek your help to accept that we are broken and sinful, needing your mercy and forgiveness. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen

Presented by Greg Williams
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About the Presenter:
The Day by Day each Sunday is taken from ‘Speaking of Life,’ (https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/), a public resource video on the USA website of Grace Communion International. Greg Williams is President of Grace Communion International and lives in North Carolina, USA.

Local Congregation:
You are welcome to attend one of our local Church congregations located throughout the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.church under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Contact:
Email: admin@daybyday.org.uk

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