It is a wonderful parable.
It tells it of two men who “went up to pray,” – one who wants to show off how righteous he is before God – and the other you feels unworthy to do anything but seek God’s mercy and grace.
According to Jesus, the one who went home from the temple “justified” before God was the repentant sinner – not the one who believed he was so righteous.
I love that parable because in such simple, understandable terms, it cuts to the core of humanity’s problem – our incessant pride.
It ruins dreams, marriages, careers, churches, communities, nations – pride – our insistence that we are “right” and others are “wrong.”
The truly justified one is the one who prays in the heartfelt way what has become known as “The Jesus Prayer.”
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.”
Pray that regularly – honestly – openly – quietly – without fanfare and with no pretense whatsoever.
And God will hear that prayer. God will answer that prayer. God will welcome you home.
Again, and again.
Thanks be to God.
By Paul Simrell
The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
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