Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Devil's advocate

Gospel: To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.

Devil's advocate: A tax collector! Why, he was just one step below a child-molester in that society -- collected taxes for the Roman governor, and cheated people at that -- I'll bet he felt out of place in that holy and beautiful place.

Gospel: The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: "God, I thank you that I am not like all other men -- robbers, evil-doers, adulterers -- or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all my income."

DA: Man, what a record! A tither -- even tithed his bank interest! You mean he fasted twice every week? No wonder he was considered to be a holy man by all his neighbors. God must have been proud to hear him!

Gospel: 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."

DA: Now, what kind of prayer is that? The man's not only a bounder -- he should have his head examined. What a debasing and negative self-image for a mature man to have! He needs a psychiatrist.

Gospel: I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

DA: Now, what's that supposed to mean? Come on, man, make sense!

Donald P. Hustad, Jubilate: Church Music in the Evangelical Tradition, pages 186-187.