This Sunday at Mayfair, we learned from the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.
One of the hallmarks of a great story is the way it treats stereotypes. Many stories employ stereotypes, but the greatest stories use them to teach us, and the parables of Jesus do just that.
In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus gives us a parable based on two stereotypes: a Pharisee and a tax collector. In our time, we’ve re-stereotyped Pharisees as hypocritical and elitist, but if we want to get the full effect of Jesus’s parable, we need to remember that the Pharisee’s were the “good guys.”
The people hearing the parable, started out thinking “I want to be like the Pharisee, not the tax collector.” But if we immediately stereotype the Pharisee and come away saying “I want to be like the tax collector, not the Pharisee,” we may have missed the point.
Too often, we come away from this parable praying in our hearts, “God, I thank you that I am not like this Pharisee.” We’re focused on stereotypes (i.e. ourselves) when we pray.
Instead, of focusing on ourselves, let’s focus on our God. And when you kneel before the Almighty, Holy God in prayer, focused on Him, you’ll find it easy to pray like the tax collector did.
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