I am sure that many of you can recall several times in your life where you have been told, and even reminded, about the benefits of proper posture. Maybe it was a grandparent telling you to sit up straight, or your middle school teacher that told you not to slouch, or a co-worker that reminded you to lift with your legs and not your back. Perhaps in your younger days you brushed off these warnings or bits of advice as nonsense. Perhaps you have come to see the advantages of having and maintaining a healthy posture. Whatever situation you may find yourself in regarding posture today, there is no doubt that there are definite benefits and advantages to paying attention to it.
This week I was reading an article on the Harvard Medical School website about the importance that good posture and balance is for the human body. It struck me that there are some very obvious ways to tell if someone has good posture or not. Someone with a keen sense and awareness about good posture could tell just by looking at you or how you carry yourself. It is important to note that having good posture is not necessarily something that comes naturally. In many cases, it requires a bit of an intentional approach to turn it into a habit.
As we continue our series on the parables of Jesus, we come to a setting that is unique to the Gospel of Luke where Jesus touches on proper posture, but not the kind we think of in terms of sitting, walking, or general body alignment. Jesus is talking about the posture of our hearts; how we carry ourselves spiritually; how we approach our Heavenly Father. The two main characters we are introduced to are a Pharisee and a tax collector. These two were at opposite ends of the scale of religiosity. On the one hand, the Pharisee would have been seen as a devout God-follower and the tax collector would have been viewed as a sinful, corrupt traitor. But it is not their outward appearance, social status, or how others view them that plays any role in how God sees them. It is entirely found in their posture in approaching Him. The Pharisee is full of himself and his good, moral behavior. The tax collector recognizes his sin and throws himself entirely at the mercy of God.
For those of us familiar with this story, we know the ending: the tax collector goes home justified in the sight of God and the Pharisee does not. For the original hearers of this story, this would have been a sharp left turn, an unexpected twist to the plot. And even those of us today can miss the greater point that Jesus is trying to showcase when it comes to where we place our confidence and assurance in our standing before God. It is entirely on account of His mercy that we are forgiven.
May each of us, in our posture, identify and relate to the humble tax collector. Let our prayer be that we approach God with a full knowledge of who we are in our need for Him. And let us be blown away once again by the marvelous mercy and grandiose grace of God that sets sinners free!
Perhaps you have a relationship with people in your life with whom you have an “open door policy.” You know, the kind of understanding where you are free to drop in on them at any time with no invitation and they will be ready to welcome you no matter what is going on. Or maybe you have told other close friends or family members that they are free to drop on by your place whenever they need. Those examples reveal a powerful and close relationship and friendship where being inconvenienced never describes these encounters. Think about the relational level you have to be at with someone to have that kind of access.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like inconveniencing people. I know that it happens and much of it is out of my control or level of awareness, but when I can help it, I go to great lengths to make sure that no one is having to wait for me or wait on me. Now, I must admit that my reasoning for this or behind this is not necessarily for the purest of reasons. Sure, on one hand, there is the reality that by me not inconveniencing anyone then they won’t have to be annoyed by something I do or don’t do. For example, some people consider it an inconvenience to be late for things so, in theory, if I help ensure they are not late because of me then I will make them happy. However, the not-so-good side of this endeavor to never inconvenience people is that I don’t always ask for or accept help as often as I should. I can find myself trying to handle things on my own so as to avoid “inconveniencing” or “bugging” others to offer me assistance. This is not such a healthy attitude either. All of us can find ourselves, at times, going back and forth on this continuum to varying degrees in our lives too.
Enter our next story time with Jesus. In this week’s parable from Luke 11, we read about a very inconveniencing situation where a person woke up his friend at midnight and asked him for some food because he was hosting someone at his house and did not have anything to give him. Talk about a hassle and an inconvenience! I’m not sure how some of you would handle a situation like this, but I don’t know that my midnight response to a question like that would be so positive or understanding.
But Jesus did not tell us this story to shock us about how audacious this person was in their request. Rather, He tells us this story because it is a lesson on prayer. It showcases the immense patience and availability of our Heavenly Father who is more than willing to listen to, hear, and answer our requests to Him at any hour of the day or night. Sometimes, we fail to bring our requests to God. We choose not to bug Him with our trivial things or inconvenience Him with the things on our hearts. But Jesus invites us to ask, seek, and knock knowing that our call with be answered. We are given the access and the confidence to know that the door is always open, that we will be welcomed in, and that we have such a relationship with God the Father that we can swing on by anytime for anything. How amazing is that!
Pastor Ben Bigaouette