Two Men Went to the Temple to Pray

How often do we stop to consider whether we ourselves are becoming like the man
who, fasting twice in the week and giving tithes of all he possessed, found cause for
glory, not in his separateness to God, but in his separateness from his fellow men. “I
thank thee that I am not as other men.” What a miserable confession to make. In
looking upon his fellows, he saw nothing to emulate, no characteristics or virtues that
he could desire for himself, but only the sordid evidences of evil. The reign of sin and
death was a very real thing to this Pharisee, and with an exquisite nicety he carefully
dissociated himself from it all and explained to the Almighty that, living in an evil
world and amidst sinful men, he was nevertheless not of them nor with them, and
that he, at least, was one to whom had come the superior inward knowledge which
rendered him a fit companion for the One who dwelt in the inner sanctuary.

We read the story smiling pityingly at the vivid picture of this pompous Israelite,
and mentally place ourselves with the publican standing afar off, as we continue
reading. However, what of the lesson behind the parable? Is it not true that at times
in the Christian life we find ourselves thanking God that we are not as other men?
Does it not happen that this separateness to God, can degenerate into a smug, selfsatisfied
separateness from the world? Worse still, at times the suggestion is made
that in this latter day when the purpose of God in calling from the nations “a people
for His name” seems to be on the brink of completion, a still more exclusive and
narrow-minded outlook is called for, namely, that our mission as witnesses of Jesus
and ministers one to the other must be abrogated in favor of individual contemplation
of the sacred mysteries and a refusal to extend the privilege of’ fellowship and the
Word of Life to all but a favored few who are accepted as being also, the “sealed of
God.”

Alas, that the fruit of a onetime zealous response to be “not conformed to this
world” should be not a transforming by the renewing of the mind, with all the light of
spiritual understanding that transformation can bring, but a gravitation to the lowest
depths of bigotry, self-delusion, and of the spiritual blindness which separation from
our fellows must mean when we are not separated to God. No matter how
discouraging our experiences with those to whom we bear the Word of Life; no
matter how disappointing our efforts to serve and strengthen our brethren, we must
not become narrow or bigoted.

We are exhorted to be sure of our foundation and to have a reason for the faith
that is in us. We are expected to be rooted and grounded in the knowledge that has
come our way, and we are warned not to compromise our understanding of Divine
Truth for the sake of outward harmony. But, above all things, we are impressed time
and again with the necessity for continual progress and advancement in our personal
understanding of Truth. There may be things upon which various disciples do not see
eye to eye. And because of differences of thought there must upon occasion be a
physical separation into groups for orderly worship and service. But that mystic
common union which binds together all who truly name the Name of Christ
transcends such temporary divisions and triumphantly demonstrates the fulfillment of
the Savior’s prayer, “I will that they may be one.” Stand upon this sure foundation,
and we shall have cause to rejoice, not in works of righteousness that we have done,
but in that common standing in Christ which is our privilege and seal of Divine
sonship.


A. O. Hudson
©CDMI

Verse of The Day

1 John 1:7
//
July 20, 2017

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

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