Once again the Church asks us to reflect on the parable of the publican and the sinner. One thinks he is totally righteous and is not; the other knows he is a sinner and through humbly admitting his fault before God and asking for forgiveness, becomes righteous. If we are truthful with ourselves, we will probably have to admit that there is at least a little bit of both in our lives. We would like to think that we stand with the humble sinner, but probably quite often there is more than enough self-righteousness present in our lives.

It does not matter what we are able to achieve in our lives. We cannot earn our way into heaven! Nor can we add anything to God’s greatness by what we do. Salvation has been won for us by Jesus and is offered to those of us who are humble enough of heart to accept it as a free gift. Thus the attitude of the sinner in the parable is the one we ought to follow.

Quite often the ways of the world are exactly opposite to the ways of the Kingdom of God. Just because it is possible to do virtually anything here on earth if we are willing to ‘bend’ a few of the rules does not mean that this will be the case when we begin trying to manipulate things in the spiritual realm! In fact, let me assure you now, that it is singularly impossible to do any manipulating of spiritual realities at all! There is only one way to salvation and that is through faith in Jesus Christ and what He has done for you. The only way to accept salvation into your heart is to be humble enough to ask for it from Jesus himself.

There are no short cuts into the Kingdom of heaven; nor is it possible to bribe or manipulate our way into God’s favour. The challenge comes in accepting our need for help from God and then be willing to accept that help under His conditions. The conditions are extremely generous: In exchange for the gift of eternal life (the emphasis being on eternal), He asks us to give our mortal lives in service to His Kingdom (the emphasis here being on mortal). It all sounds like a pretty good deal to me. What do you think?

What are my thoughts about giving my life in service of the Kingdom of God? Why is there a reluctance to surrender my life completely into the hands of God and His will? Why am I afraid to do that?

Jesus, teach me that there is nothing to fear in surrendering my life to you. Teach me that the words you speak into my heart are indeed the words of everlasting life.