Majoring on the Minors

“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.’” (Luke 18:11-12)

Think about all the good and religious and “god” things this Pharisee did:

  • He went to the temple to pray
  • He was thankful
  • He didn’t steal
  • He wasn’t a crook
  • He didn’t cheat on his wife
  • He didn’t rob people unfairly out of their taxes
  • He was true to his country (tax collectors betrayed their nationality by siding with Rome – this guy wasn’t like the tax collector.)
  • He practiced the spiritual discipline of fasting – not once, but twice a week
  • He tithed his pay check.

That’s pretty impressive if you think about it. A laundry list of religious deeds that were a part of his daily and weekly routine. I am sure he was a stalwart in his community. A leader in his church. A Sunday School teacher. A deacon. Counted the money after the service. A greeter at the door. Kids loved him. Young men wanted to be like him. Married for 53 years. Could quote his Bible. On the committee that called the pastor. Attended several men’s Bible studies during the week. Honest. Fair. Rational. Kind. Nice. When he spoke, people compared him with Moses.

But according to Jesus, this man was not right with God. This man didn’t have any kind of relationship with God. This man kept things on the outside. This man did what he did to earn status and favor with God. This man went to work for God, using his life as a means to “get in” when the time came.

I wonder how often I (or we church people) major on the minors? I wonder how often we focus our attention on what we are doing for God? I wonder if we are thankful that God let us do what we did for Him today? I wonder if I run through the list of things I have done to give myself confidence that I am okay and obviously doing what’s necessary to be a Christian? I wonder if I am a really good and religious guy who is unjustified before God?

Being right with God only comes by way of utter helplessness and dependence. On God. A relationship with God only happens when it is wanted and received out of necessity. It is frightening to me how easy it is to appear right, but be completely wrong.

What if following Jesus wasn’t about what I can do, but more about (all about?) what He has done, is doing, and will do? I wonder if it’s not about what I do for, but rather how much I am being with? The “major” in Christianity is Jesus. Who He is. What He’s done. How He does it. What He says. What He is doing. How He is moving. Not about what Matt has or hasn’t done.

What about you? Guilty of majoring on the minors? What needs to happen now to major on the right thing? There’s really only one right answer to the test: “Did I follow Jesus?”