Contributor: Ryan Moffat, BS in Bible and Theology from Multnomah University. Pastor of Vast Church.
Jesus told lots of troubling stories…stories about everyday things like gardening, sheep, fields, pearls and other very normal, everyday realities that we encounter daily. He told stories because He understood that there was an innate power to a narrative that certain oral styles (lecturing, preaching, etc) couldn’t convey. These stories were metaphors about the way things are in reality as Jesus saw reality.
These stories were meant to jog the heart and the mind to help bring the listeners into the story and identify with the characters and find themselves within the story. One of Jesus most troubling stories to us proper, nice, religious folk is the story He tells in Luke 18.
Luke starts the story by setting the stage; “He also told a parable to some who trusted in themselves.” Uh oh…we have some good ‘ol proper religious types (guys Luke calls “Pharisees”) and Jesus wants to lean in HARD on those who find the meaning of life within themselves. He goes on to tell a story about a Pharisee (pastor of the day) and a tax collector (thief, scum, looked down up kind of guy) and describes these two men going up to the temple to pray.
The first description is about the Pharisess; this guy finds meaning in his own moral goodness; he finds meaning and ultimate reality in his commitment and in his dedication. But here’s the kicker…he measures his piety only in relationship to how much better he is compared to the tax collector! Luke describes the attitude of this 1st century pastor; “I thank you Lord that I’m not like this tax collector.”
The second guy is the broken down one, he happens to be a tax collector but he represents a whole segment of humanity (the addicted, the strung out, the drunk, the broken, etc.). This guy can’t even look up (as Luke describes in the text); “But the tax collector standing far off would not even lift his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast saying; ‘God have mercy on me, I’m a sinner.”
Wow, what a contrast! The first man; arrogant, impressed with himself, living only through comparing himself to others while the second guy is broken, weak, disgusted with himself and feels the weight of his own sin so severely that he can’t even craft a nice, cheerful, showy repentance. His prayer is simple, succinct and to the point. And watch what Luke says; “And this man (the broken tax collector) went home justified”.
Jesus teaches one of the most important realities in the universe…He declares that things are not as they seem. The man or woman who is at wits end, strung out, addicted, broken is the person who is strategically positioned to receive everything God has to offer; grace, mercy, relational healing, power over sin and addiction, etc. Jesus declares that the person who receives this is the one does one thing, one simple thing that most of us are too scared to do…humble ourselves, ask forgiveness and seek help.
If you’re tired, weary, broken maybe you’ll follow this crooked tax collector down the least obvious path….the path of humility!
Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!
What does humility look like in your life? How has your view of self changed in addiction recovery?
About the Author:
Ryan received his BS in Bible and Theology and a minor in counseling from Multnomah University. He has pastored students, families and is passionate about Christ-centered recovery and healing. He’s been married to his beautiful wife Michelle for 13 years and they enjoy raising four crazy, unique and special kids together.
Ryan is the teaching pastor at Vast Church in Sisters, OR and is currently working on his Masters in Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, OR
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions and co-occurring disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals. We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on September 18, 2015. Published on AddictionHope.com
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