Thursday, July 03, 2014

Butterfield: the problem of sin

Thursday, July 3, 2014
    Feast of Thomas the Apostle
    He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
    —Luke 18:9-14 (ESV)
    It is not the mere existence of unusual criminals that has ravaged our world; for the arrangements of society (whether national or international) ought always to presume that some of these will be lurking somewhere. The gates have been opened to evil in part because of a terrible discrepancy between human ideals and actual possibilities—terrible heresies concerning the nature of man and the structure of the historical universe. Christianity, even if it cannot persuade men to rise to the contemplation of the spiritual things, embodies principles which may at least have the effect of bringing the dreamers down to earth. Because it confronts the problem of human sin, it can face our difficulties and dilemmas without evasions—without the fundamental evasiveness of those who believe that all would be well with the world if it were not for a few unspeakable criminals, always conveniently identified with the political enemy of the moment.
    ... Herbert Butterfield (1900-1979), Christianity, Diplomacy and War, London: Epworth Press, 1953, Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1953, p. 75 (see the book)
    See also Luke 18:9-14; Matt. 7:1-5; John 3:19; Rom. 3:9-23; Eph. 2:1-3; 4:17-19; Col. 1:13-14; 2:13; 1 Pet. 2:25; 1 John 1:8-10; 2:16; 5:19
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, show me my pride, and do not allow me to ignore my own sin.
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