"There is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah"
2 Nephi 2:8 (The Book of Mormon)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Impassable Gulf

Under the Roman government, publicans were agents who collected taxes and earned commission off of the amount of money they could secure. They were despised by the people and were often excommunicated from the synagogues by the leaders of the Jewish church. In the view of so many who "trusted in themselves that they were righteous" (see Luke 18:9) those who had taken upon themselves this profession became a lesser class, looked down upon and despised.

This social standing cultivated in many of the publicans a deep sense of unworthiness... a humility which helped them to recognize their need for the Savior and to seek His grace. Over and over again, the Savior visited with them, dined with them, pronounced blessings upon them, and even called one to be His apostle.(see Luke 5: 27-29) This baffled and infuriated the Pharisees.

What a wonderful reminder that God's ways are not our ways! What a beautiful demonstration that God looks on the heart! He is not concerned with worldly status, position or esteem. He seeks out the sinner. The remarkable irony is that each of us in reality are "the sinner". The division; however, lies between those who recognize themselves to be sinners and those who will not. How easy it is for us to fall into the same folly of the Pharisees and unwisely deem ourselves to be righteous while condemning others! The inability to look at one's own stain and inadequacy while magnifying the impurity and flaw in others creates a gulf between ourselves and the Savior... one which is impassable while we persist in a prideful state. This is one of the great tools the adversary uses to keep us from drawing near to the Savior and receiving of His essential and atoning grace.

Consider one of the many parables the Savior offers to a group of Pharisees who are annoyed by Christ's insistence in associating with such sinners.

10- Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11- The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

12- I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

13- And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

14- I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for
every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Luke 18

"When our hearts are filled with pride, we commit a grave sin, for we violate the two great commandments. Instead of worshipping God and loving our neighbor, we reveal the real object of our worship and love—the image we see in the mirror."
Pride and the Priesthood by Dieter F. Uchtdorf

1 comment:

  1. I love that Jesus Christ spent his time & efforts seeking out sinners. We all need Christ, but He knows that sinners are ready to listen. They are aware of their sins & know they cannot "fix things" on their own. To get to that point takes a lot of humility & pain, but the peace & rewards are so great!


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