Self righteous Christians 

 

There is a highly repeated theme in the Lord's parables. It is that He saw His people as falling into one of two categories: the sinners / spiritually weak, and the self-righteous Christians. This isn't just the possible implication of one or two parables: 

The sinners / weak

The self-righteous

The prodigal son (each of us) who genuinely thought he had lost his relationship with his father (cp. God) for ever (Lk.  15:11-32).

The elder son who said he'd never disobeyed his father (cp. God),  and who in the end walks away from his father.

The sinner who hasn't got the faith to lift up his eyes to God, weighed down with the weight of his seemingly irreversible sins (Lk. 18:1-8).

The self-righteous Christian   man who looks up to God with what he thinks is a good conscience and thanks Him that he is better than others, feeling that the sinful brother praying next to him is somehow too far gone.

The weak labourer (no employer wanted to hire him) who works one hour but is given a day's pay for it. We are left to imagine him walking away in disbelief clutching his penny (cp. the faithful with salvation at the judgment) (Mt. 20:1-16).

The strong self-righteous Christian labourer who works all day and complains at the end that the weak labourer has been given a penny. " Go thy way..." (Mt. 20:14) could imply he is fired from the Master's service because of this attitude. This would fit in with the way the other parables describe the second man as the rejected one.

The builder whose progress appeared slow, building on a rock, symbolizing the difficulty he has in really hearing the word of the Lord Jesus.

The self-righteous Christian builder who appeared to make fast progress (Mt. 7:24-27), who apparently finds response to the word very easy.

The (spiritually) sick who need a doctor, represented by the stray animal who falls down a well and desperately bleats for pity (Lk. 14:5 RSV).

Those self-righteous Christians who don't think they need a doctor aren't helped by Christ (Mt. 9:12)

Those with a splinter in their eye, from God's viewpoint, who are seen as in need of spiritual correction by other believers (Mt. 7:3-5).

Those self-righteous Christians with a plank of wood in their eye, from God's perspective, but who think they have unimpaired vision to see the faults in their brethren.

Those who guard the house and give food to the other servants (Mt. 24:45-51).

Those who are materialistic and beat their fellow servants.

The man who owed 100 pence to his brother (Mt. 18:23-35), but nothing to his Lord (because the Lord counts him as justified).

The man who owed 10,000 talents to his Lord, but would not be patient with his brother who owed him 100 pence. He had the opportunity to show much love in return for his Lord's forgiveness, on the principle that he who is forgiven much loves much (Lk. 7:41-43).

The man who takes the lowest, most obscure seat at a feast is (at the judgment) told to go up to the best seat. We are left to imagine that the kind of humble man who takes the lowest seat would be embarrassed to go up to the highest seat, and would probably need encouragement to do so. This will be exactly the position of all those who enter the Kingdom. Those who are moved out of the highest seats are characterized by " shame" , which is the hallmark of the rejected. Therefore all the righteous are symbolized by the humble man who has to be encouraged (at the judgment) to go up higher.

The man who assumes he should have a respectable seat at the feast (Lk. 14:8-11). Remember that the taking of places at the feast represents the attitude we adopt within the ecclesia now.

The spiritually despised Samaritan who helped the (spiritually) wounded man.

The apparently righteous Levite and Priest who did nothing to help (Lk. 10:25-37).

The men who traded and developed what they had (Lk. 19:15-27).

The man who did nothing with what he had, not even lending his talent to Gentiles on usury; and then thought Christ's rejection of him unreasonable.

The son who rudely refuses to do the father's work, but then does it with his tail between his legs (Mt. 21:28-32).

The self-righteous Christian son who immediately and publicly agrees to do his father's work but actually does nothing. The Father's work is saving men. Note how in this and the above two cases, the self-righteous are rejected for their lack of interest in saving others (both in and out of the ecclesia)  (2) .

The king who realizes he cannot defeat the approaching army (cp. Christ and His Angels coming in judgment) because he is too weak, and surrenders.

The king who refuses to realize his own weakness and is therefore, by implication, destroyed by the oncoming army (Lk. 14:31,32).

Those who think their oil (cp. our spirituality) will probably run out before the second coming (Mt. 25:1-10).

Those self-righteous Christians who think their oil (spirituality) will never fail them and will keep burning until the Lord's return.

It makes a good exercise to read down just the left hand column. These are the characteristics of the acceptable, in God's eyes. In the light of this, I reckon we are in for the shock of their lives at the judgment seat. Many who assume they are spiritually OK will find themselves hurled into the lake of fire. Sorry, but this is what these parables teach. This conclusion can't really be avoided. Some of those who think they won't be in the Kingdom feel this way because they compare themselves with other, over-confident, self-righteous Christians; such comparison among ourselves isn't wise (2 Cor. 10:12). Reading just the right hand column above (go on, do it) reveals all too many similarities with our congregations.