Lenten Devotional: Friday, March 21

Every day during Lent, members of Oconee Street UMC will write a Lenten devotional and share with the congregation.

by Max Reinhart
March 21, 2014

“… in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.” (Rom. 2:1)

Everybody judges. Who can help it? It’s in our nature – it IS our nature! It can be hilarious. Just read any of Shakespeare’s comedies! Or  Erasmus’s “Praise of Folly.” Or anything by Dorothy Parker.  St. Paul didn’t find it so funny though (he didn’t find much of anything funny, the sour puss!), and that used to seriously irritate me about him. But then I started to understand what he was really trying to get at, which is, “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). And by “sin” he didn’t mean just the Big Ones that poor transgressors get ridden out of town on a rail for. One sin is as damning as the next: “strife, deceit, craftiness … gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful …” (Rom. 1:29-30). Whoa! You mean, if I cheat, or go wagging my tongue, or get all uppity, that’s as bad as murder or fornication? Yep, that’s about the way the Pauline cookie crumbles.

In his commentary on Rom. 2:1 (quoted above), the great German theologian Karl Barth explained why this is so. “Whenever you assert that you, or you and your crowd, actually know what godliness and humility are, you fail to perceive the distance between God and man. By judging others, even if your intention is to save them from themselves, you only prove your ignorance of God’s secret will. Even Christ in the flesh was subject to this law. There are no saints in this world of sinners.”

So, why should I go to church, if not to be reminded of, and to celebrate, my vast commonality, not just with my fellow Methodists, Christians, church-goers, but with the washed and the unwashed, with believer and unbeliever alike, no better, no worse, than any other child of God anywhere?

Lord God, help me to be mindful in the daylight of the truth that dawns on me in the night, that all of my efforts to be more like Jesus are empty if I fail to grasp that Jesus himself, in coming to this earth, aspired to be just like me. 

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