There once were two men who went to church.
The first one dressed right and had the Christianese down. He said words like “blessed” at the right time and constantly referred to his wife as his “bride.” The other man showed up dressed differently and didn’t quite know what to say. If the church was West Coast “flip-flop” casual, he would show up in a suit.
While the first man prayed incredible public prayers, had an impressive library, and was a key member of the church, pride seeped into the foundation of his character long ago. However, this second man is different. I picture this second man wondering what to say when it came time to pray. He heard prayers given in King James English long ago, but didn’t know if that was still appropriate. Instead, I picture this man dishing out raw honesty to God. He looked down to the ground and quietly mouthed, “God, please have mercy on me.”
God doesn’t need our sacrifices.
God doesn’t need our perfection.
In fact, He doesn’t need our money or thoughts or our prayers. He certainly doesn’t need our words, whether they’re eloquent or jumbled. What God wants from us is our heart—broken, confused, heavy, or spent.
Jesus told a parable about two men who went to the temple. There was a Pharisee, who had it all together, and the tax collector, who was far from perfect. While the parable played out like the two men who went to church, Jesus ended it with surprising words.
At the temple, the tax collector, broken and ashamed, couldn’t even look up to the heavens. He looked down to the ground, beat his chest and groaned, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” This man, Jesus said, went home justified (declared righteous before God). Shockingly enough, that tax collector, not the religious leader, had the real relationship with God.
Where is God in our brokenness? According to Jesus, it seems as if he’s there in the middle of it. He’s there, if only we look to him. If only our heavy hearts, burdened with sin, despair, or frustrations, might find their rest in Jesus.
Where do you find God?