As Moravians we talk a lot about Essentials. You know, “In Essentials Unity…” And, recently we’ve arrived at (or returned to) greater clarity about what we believe the Essentials are: God creates, redeems (thank you, Jesus!), and sanctifies (thank you, Holy Spirit!) – and we respond to these acts of God by our acts of Faith, Love, and Hope. It’s pretty straightforward. The only thing I’d add would be to observe that there needs to be thankfulness on our part for the Essentials to really hit home. Look at the story of Jesus healing a guy from Samaria – actually ten guys from Samaria – with skin diseases (Luke 17:11 – 19). All ten of them approach Jesus. All ten cry out for mercy. And, all ten are healed as they leave with specific instructions from Jesus. But, only one of them, “when he saw that he had been healed, returned and praised God with a loud voice” (v. 15). The way I see it, the only difference between the one who came back and the nine who kept walking is that nine of them got what they wanted by following instructions. One of them got more than he could have imagined by following Jesus. It’s easy to take credit or to take for granted the things that God does for us out of love. We may be tempted to think somehow we earned it. Or, that God does these things because we asked nicely. Worse, we might actually feel somehow more entitled to God’s favor than someone else. You know, “those people.” See Luke 18:9-14. The more difficult path – that narrow road, you might say – is the wise and humble way of receiving with gratitude all of the ways God shows up in our lives every day and following Jesus who is, after all, the greatest gift of all.
written by Pastor Brian Dixon
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray,one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”