Gleanings – Confessions of an Ordinary Sinner

Proper 29, Wednesday

Luke 19:1-10

And when they saw it they all murmured, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”

An English Bishop once challenged his congregation, “Oh the murmuring, do you want message or a massage.” Paul raised the question in another way. Do we want the truth or do we want to have our ears tickled? Truth be told, we can have our ears tickled but only by grace and that only by way of a truth that does not tickle at all.

People often murmur at the Gospel, that Jesus hangs with sinners who invite him in. The murmuring disposition can only come from one of two lies, I’ve never been bound by sin or I’ve been released from sin and am therefore no longer bound. It is an utter rejection of the biblical truth that even in my redeemed state I do things I do not want to do and I don’t do things I want to do (Romans 7). This indicting truth does not tickle.

I for one am grateful that Jesus chooses to hang with sinners and this in spite of the truth or perhaps because of it. Why? Because I am so good at being a sinner!

My NT prof was fond of saying, “I like sinning and He (Jesus) likes forgiving.” This resonates with me. The system God created serves this sinner well. It is not always obvious. Certainly I am not immune to glamorous sin but most of sinning is more ordinary, rather pedestrian, unseen and unspoken.

I covet what others have, even if it is just security. I am disciplined enough not speak aloud my coveting. It is beneath the surface. Is my desire for a 67 Stang any different than my neighbor’s desire for his brand new Jag?

I forgive but I still catalog wrongs (1 Cor. 13). I am saying I forgive but struggle to forget. A friend had to point this out to me recently. I had forgiven him at his repentance and request. But two years later I was quick to remind him of what God had already forgotten, that thing for which my friend had already fallen on his sword.

I never ever love in the way God would have me love. It is not possible. My greatest philanthropy is tainted somewhere somehow by self-interest. Conditions on my love may be small but they are still ever present.

So thank you Jesus that you come in at my invitation. Thank you too that I need not climb a tree to be noticed. Deliver me from lies that would cause me to scoff at the company you keep. Thank you for numbering me among those in the company. Thank you Jesus that my neighbor’s scoffing nor mine keeps you from that RSVP.




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