Make Us Like That Tax Collector

Father, we remember the story in Luke 18, of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee is proud because of who he is not. He scoffs at broken communities and thanks you that he is different. And then the tax collector, so burdened by his own brokenness, doesn’t even lift his head, but instead prays to you for mercy. Hey says: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

And it is the tax collector who is justified. He was the man honest enough with himself to know that he cannot scoff at broken people because he himself is broken. He was honest enough with himself to know that he cannot be good enough to earn your love, but that your love comes by grace and grace alone.

Now Father, we ask that you make us like that tax collector, to come to you not with our gifts, but with groans. To come to you asking for mercy.

So we do that now, Father. We live in a land that favors comfort over human life, a land that still sees people based on the color of their skin, not the content of their character. All these years after Martin Luther King we are still plagued by the “manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.” And as much as we would oppose such views that are contrary to your word, we confess now that traces of them are in our hearts.

We all, in our hearts, because of sin, tend toward the comfort that disposes children instead of welcomes them. Because of sin, we tend toward the comfort of being around people who look like me instead of around those who are different. We tend toward selfishness, not toward love. And we confess that this is in our hearts, not yours.

And for this and more, we repent. We ask that you forgive us. Lead us. Change us. Use us for your glory. Father, be merciful to us sinners. And now, by your Spirit, lead us as we confess our personal sins to you in silence . . .