Saturday, October 26, 2013

Attaboy

Hello Friends.

Who doesn’t like an “attaboy!” when they do something good? It's the reason there are scholarship awards for the peeps as they head into college. “Attaboy!” stands behind all those accolades high achievers get throughout life — Rhode’s scholarships, purple hearts, Silver stars, gold statues, merit raises for school teachers, making partner in a big firm, getting re-elected (in any organization, at any level), and those pups who get those Good Canine Citizen things. “Attaboys!” reward the gracious, good, above-and-beyond behaviors we see in others. Good persons and dogs deserve good things.

The problem is that our vision of “good behavior” can get extremely narrow-minded, extremely near-sighted. We only are able to see the good in those who stand closest to us. Those far off become, if not “bad,” at least “other.” “Otherness” is perhaps the most insidious form of prejudice. Why? Because “otherness” makes close closed. “Otherness” disassociates our loved ones from outsiders and strangers. As soon as we identify some as “others,” the game is over. We have drawn up “us” vs. “them” battle-lines.
In the Gospel of Luke 18:9-14 the good-living, well-meaning Pharisee and the ne’r-do-well tax collector are set up as ideal types of the “acceptable” vs. the “other.” The contrast could not be sharper. The Pharisee examines himself, and finds no fault with himself. The tax collector lets God examine him, and throws himself on the bar of God's justice (receiving mercy as God does). Ironically, the Pharisee treats God as a debt collector and the Tax Collector, who IS a debt collector, treats God as a Savior.
The Pharisee lives a truly faithful life. He obeys the letter of the Law. He prays. He fasts. He tithes. He is a Pharisee — that is, an individual who has devoted his life to the study and practice of Torah law as it impacts everyday living for an observant Jew. But the Pharisee’s “prayer” was not a prayer at all. He did not come to God with a spirit that stood humbly before God in acknowledgment of an unmerited gift that only God could offer.
The only time true “prayer” was offered in this parable was by the tax collector. He did not articulate his gifts and graces, or his sins and shortcomings. This Tax Collector felt his failure, and knew without a doubt he stood in need of God’s forgiveness if he had any hope of redemption.

The Pharisee's righteousness does not reach beyond his own boundaries, and his righteousness stiff-arms “others.”
The surprise in this parable is, once again, one who has been classified by the “in crowd” as one of those who is “The Other.” An outsider. Someone everyone else considered a go-along-to-get-along government-droid. A tax-collector. Yet he addresses God firsthand and face first. This tax collector directly asks, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” No excuses. No digressions. No explanations. He confessed his all-too-human inadequacies to God, while seeking God’s forgiveness and acceptance.
(Bansky Art)
Earlier in October graffiti street artist “Bansky” — who has intentionally kept his personal identity under-wraps for the past twenty years traveled from his hometown of London to New York City. Bansky undertook another artistic experiment. This world-renowned artist, whose original works have sold for millions of dollars at auction, set up a small stand on a sidewalk off Central Park. He was selling ”original, signed” pieces of his art. The price for each canvas was $60.00.
Despite this sale happening in a supposedly art-savvy New York City, despite the cache of his name, Bansky (manning his little kiosk in disguise) only managed to sell eight original works during the course of a long, hard day on the sidewalk.
(Bansky Art)
Set up on a bench outside the park, no one appreciated what he had to offer. Because of where he was, he was seen as worthless. Because of who he looked like, his work was seen as valueless. One woman even argued the artist down from his $60.00/piece price to a “twofer” — she got a half-price deal because she bought two for her small daughter’s bedroom. One buyer said he just needed something to “cover the walls.” Each canvas purchased for the street price of sixty green papers is estimated to have resale value of $750,000 to a million green papers.  That a lot of treat money.
A secret unknown and unguessed by the rest of the world. That is the Kingdom of Heaven. Insight into that secret is what transforms self-serving into sacrificial service. Glimpsing that astounding new reality is what makes a prayerful, repentant tax collector. A tax collector is a debt collector, a tabulator, one who adds up debts. Yet in this parable, the tabulator is the one redeemed because he realizes that tabulating debts is sin. The Pharisee is also one who "tabulates" but not the debts of others. He tabulates points for himself. He tallies up his merit badges, his “Attaboys!” and declares himself deserving. The Pharisses are merit badge collectors, yet it is the tax collector who ends up wearing the "red badge of courage,” the evidence of his sin on his sleeve.
If we treat God as though God is a collector of points or will deal out favors like badges for all to see, then we insult the Creator. We cannot expect favors. God's love is not earned. And God’s justice is not vindictive or arbitrary.  God is a God of love and mercy. Despite the trudging atrocities of his everyday life, the tax collector trusts that God is a God of love and mercy.
God is not in the business of collecting or bestowing favors. And prayer should be a conversation, not a status report. A request, not a list of bullet points. When we enter into prayer in the way of "proving" our righteousness, we in fact only prove our pride. We not only deceive others, but ourselves. True prayer is about giving up, not puffing up. Righteousness is a gift to be received, not a merit badge to be earned.
The tax collector treats God as a Just Judge, and flings himself upon the mercy of the court. The Pharisee treats God as a tax collector, a debt collector, and seeks to prove his status as PAID IN FULL. But only God can declare us PAID IN FULL.  Not through merit badges but through God’s amazing grace as a Debt-Eliminator, and Jesus, the Great Debt-Eraser.

In the darkness of the midnight hour, do you hear the phone ringing, the debt collectors calling, and calling and calling?  Or in the darkness of the midnight hour, can you hear the beautiful music?

Blessings,
Goose




 
 
 

24 comments:

  1. Beautiful. Simply stated. God is good.
    Blessings to you as well.
    Jeanne, Chloe and LadyBug

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  2. Beautiful message. Have a happy and blessed Sunday. XOXO

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  3. You taught us something good Goose
    Lily.

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  4. Hari OM
    Well remembered. As always, beautifully illustrated. Hugs and wags, YAM-aunty xxx

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  5. Thank you, I have tears rolling down my face. thank you thank you thank you..

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  6. A beautiful thoughtful message for today. We love Bansky over here. He always makes you think. Very clever and talented. Have a serene Sunday.
    Best wishes Molly

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  7. So very beautiful!

    (...and I love the dog painting!)

    Monty and Harlow

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  8. I agree Goose, nothing is natural. That was a very wise post and we should ponder about. Have a wonderful sunday!

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  9. First of all, those pictures are just gorgeous.
    Second, that was one wonderful message. I sure learned a lot. We so thank you for these messages. Hope Goose, that you and your Mom have a wonderful day.

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  10. Another awesome and beautiful lesson Goose. You are so wise. Lee and Phod

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  11. Thanks Goose for the good words, it never fails how you make us feel so good. We agree with Frankie & Ernie One big Attaboy for those words. We hope we are worthy of being just a couple of puppers, no attaboys and not others!

    The Mad Scots

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  12. Goose thank you for this beautiful thought provoking post and OMDs the pictures are exquisite!!! Yay for your new camera
    Hugs Madi your BFFF

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  13. Did you have to write your mom's sermon for her again Goose? I bet you took the photos too!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

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  14. Attaboy or otherness and it seems like you can never be the middle of the road for that I guess would be nothingness. My hope is like the tax collector in God’s amazing grace. One cannot please all the people all the time and you much walk to the beat of your own drum do right and pray to a merciful God.
    What did your Mom call herself when she was a DJ.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog Goose.

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  15. Goose, you always seem to write something I need to know, just when I need to know it! You (and your mom) are truly a blessing to many!

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  16. Wonderful message Goose!!

    wags
    Jazzi

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  17. Wonderful post and beautiful pictures.

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  18. I have seen some of the Bansky "Graffiti" in Park City. Your stories and pictures were woven beautifully together. Thanks for the insightful message. You really are a blessing.

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  19. Goose, you have no idea how much we needed this right now. Today it means even more than it would have yesterday - maybe that's why we're so behind in our reading?
    Thank you, my sweet, sweet friend. This was so beautiful on so very many levels. Our mom is going to share the link on her FB page; we hope you don't mind.
    Cammie!

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  20. That was absolutely beautiful, Goose! Our friend, Miss Karen from facebook, suggested we stop by for a very terrific post. Karen was right!

    Love ya lots♥
    Mitch and Molly

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  21. This one is for the book, Goose. You know which one. Tell your mom. She'll get it too.

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  22. Its such as you scan my mind! You appear to grasp such a lot regarding this, such as you wrote the book in it or one thing. i believe that you just may do with some pics to drive the message home to a small degree, however apart from that, this is often nice journal. an excellent scan. Traveling Blog Travel Place Berita Sepak Bola

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