Luke 18:9-14 (NRSV)
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, "God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income." 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.'
Isn't it funny how even 2000 years ago we see people separating themselves into "us" and "them"? I am good, we are saved...you're bad, you're a *insert race, religion, ect.*... The Kingdom of God isn't about "Us vs Them". When we divide ourselves in this fashion, we tend to "dehumanize" those that are "other". This makes it easier to hate the "other".
Humbling ourselves doesn't mean seeing ourselves as the lowest of the low. It's realizing that we are are neither better nor worse than the person next to us. Paul tells us that no one is righteous; that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God".
This Lent, let's try to see Christ in all people, especially those we find difficult or uncomfortable to be around.
As an aside, I wanted to add two things:
First, please pray for the family of Terry Hardesty, who passed away yesterday.
Second: This Friday and Saturday I may be breaking my Facebook fast in order to blog the Arkansas Diocesean Convention. I was elected a delegate this year, so I'll have a ringside seat. It doesn't look like there is anything exciting or controversial this year, but just in case...