Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Fulfillment (04/06/06)
TITLE: The Pharisee In Me
By Dawn Thomason
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My husband and I had come to New York City for the day with our church group. We wanted to see a show that would be wholesome in nature (which we realized might be a challenge considering our proximity), so we decided upon an Off-Broadway production of Sara Plain and Tall. What we were to experience next was definitely not something that was on OUR agenda for the day! Instead, we would experience the fulfillment of God’s lesson plan for us in His School of Life for Christ-like Living.
Of all the restaurants in NYC how in the world did we end up in this one? I had chosen the restaurant based solely upon the menu selections -- my husband being a vegetarian and myself being what I like to refer to as a picky-tarian. Why didn't the Lord shout "No, not THAT one!" Why didn't the red flags pop up in warning? As we perused the menu selections we began to realize something that had not been readily apparent upon our entrance. We were sitting down to dine with individuals who had chosen to live a homosexual lifestyle. Sure, there were a few others like my husband and I who were “straight”, but not many. I was feeling a myriad of emotions – awkward, embarrassed, concerned, compassion, and yes, even judgmental. Having been taught by my mentor to view each person as one for whom Christ died, I knew I needed to reassess the situation and consider, “What would Jesus do?” Then it hit me.
He would stay. He would finish his meal. He would smile in such a way as to warm the hearts of those who would glance in His direction. His eyes would glisten with compassion and understanding. Above all He would reach out to them with love – right where they were – and not have a spirit of condemnation.
My mind transported me back in time to the stage of Matthew 9. I envisioned Jesus sitting down to eat with the publicans and sinners. The Pharisees (a/k/a hypocrites) asked the disciples why Jesus was eating with sinners. When Christ overheard the conversation he responded with indignation toward the Pharisees and absolute mercy and grace toward the sinners – “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matthew 9:13(b); KJV) The Pharisees were so caught up in their pious rules and regulations that they had missed the message of love, mercy and grace. Was I having a Pharisee experience of my very own in NYC that day? As the curtain closed and I was transported back to the present, I knew my grade in the School of Christlikeness would be directly related to how I responded to and applied the Teacher’s lesson.
Though my sins are different from those I witnessed, it is only through the blood of Christ and His Spirit living in me that I have the power to overcome my sinful nature. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20; KJV)
In the midst of modern day publicans and sinners we bowed our heads. We asked the Lord to bless our meal. We thanked Him for continuing to work in us and helping us to become more and more like Him. We prayed that those who might glance in our direction would see, not the difference of our lifestyle, but the difference of our Savior living within us. Perhaps we were sent to that restaurant as an instrument (much like a flashlight) to be used in God’s hand -- reflecting just a glimmer of Christ’s light in a present darkness.
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