Two men went up to the temple to pray one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 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. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” Luke 18: 10-12 When I read this scripture, all I could think was that I am the Pharisee in this story. For most of my life, I’ve felt that I had a strong moral compass. I’ve always tried to be a righteous person, never got into any trouble, and have always been polite to other people. I grew up attending a Chinese church where I had always felt judged for wanting to talk to other kids my age about action movies, cars, or desires for getting tattoos. Around them, I felt very restricted to speaking only about Godly things and activities. Given that I never felt like I fit in, I dismissed God and in place of him, relied on only myself to hold myself to a high moral standard. As life progressed and I grew older, I took a lot of pride in myself self-sufficiency. I had moved around a lot, got into and out of relationships, but at the end of it all, I still did not feel fulfilled.
Despite my pride in being able to take care of myself, I still felt a piece was missing and I often would try to fill that void through connecting with other people or through acquiring material possessions. About a year and a half ago, I met Samantha, who will soon be my wife. From the onset, I was attracted to her faith in something greater. The warmth and graciousness I saw in her everyday led me to start attending church with her again in San Francisco. On the first evening I had set foot in her church, I was greeted by someone who resembled me – covered in tattoos. I was taken aback because all my previous notions about “church people” were instantly negated. Through the following months of attending church with her every weekend first in San Francisco, and then now in Austin had really demonstrated to me that Christianity can be a spectrum and not all Christians had to be the judgmental people I labeled them to be.
With my incorrect assumptions now dismissed, I recognized that it was time to work on myself. For most of my adult life, I said to myself that I don’t need God because I believed myself to be a decent human being as it is. My self-sufficiency and pride needed to be set aside and I am now in a place where I recognize that I need Him in my life so that I can be saved. Similar to the Pharisee, I have sinned all these years by measuring up my self-sufficiency and social standing to my peers. It seemed that because I was nothing as sinful as an evildoer or a robber, that I did not need saving. God sent his only son, the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ, to bear all of our sins for us so that we could be saved and I am finally ready to receive that gift after having denied it for all these years. For so many years, I exalted myself only to be humbled, but through Jesus Christ, I look forward to finally humbling myself.