Monday, March 25, 2013

A final Pause in Lent, 2013

Well, even though it's been bitty and I've not had all that much blogging time, I've appreciated our Pause in Lent this year - thank you for your contributions and comments! My thought this week has been about how easy it is to define ourselves negatively ('well, at least I'm not...') rather than positively. I want to avoid the comparison definitions of myself, and go for the positive ones, the ones which say what I am, not what I'm NOT!

This led on, strangely but logically, to Jesus's story:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘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 and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God."

The story is in the book of Luke, and you can find the full version here. The logical connection is that the Pharisee was all about what he was NOT, but the tax collector looked at what he WAS. The strange aspect is that what he sees about himself is negative, and not all the positive cheery stuff I was aiming for! So does that mean that either the tax collector or I have got it wrong?

I think not. The tax collector doesn't compare himself to the Pharisee, only to God, and to what he feels he should be in God's eyes. That's not wrong, and Jesus promises that it got him justified by God. I can look at myself and see what I have done wrong, and what I lack in terms of character. I can go to God about it and seek his mercy, without comparing myself to other people. I can also look at myself in the shining light of Jesus' love and forgiveness, and see some wonderful, wonderful things about myself, made in the image of God and redeemed by his grace. I think that this is where the positive definitions come in. As Mother Theresa said: 'For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway'.

Have a special Holy Week, if you're commemorating it. And see you for Easter Joy!


Lorrie said...

Thank you, Floss. I've not participated in the Pause for Lent, but I've read your posts, and Elizabeth's (Cornish Cream).

Have a blessed Holy Week and Easter.

Carolyn Phillips said...

Thank you Floss. I find those challenging though. It is so easy to compare ourselves to others, both 'At least I'm not' and 'I'm not as good as' and in the end it isn't about that, it is about us and God as you say. thank you.

Thank you as well for encouraging us to Pause each year. I have really benefited this year from taking the time out to meditate and put my post together.

Kezzie said...

OH so true! Such a slippery slide comparing ourselves to others. Leads to the sin which is most difficult to overcome: pride!X