On Outcasts, Modern Pharisees, and Luke
Mormons (I among them) believe that there is a God, there is truth and untruth, and that there is right and wrong. It is not true that anything goes, that whatever a person thinks is fine, or that whatever comes natural is acceptable. We believe that God gives us commandments and that he does so out of kind, fatherly love, for our happiness and well-being. We believe that goodness and blessings follow adherence to his commandments and that more difficulty and misery than we might otherwise have to face follows non-compliance. (Mormons believe that adversity is necessary to freedom of choice and is an essential ingredient in life’s purpose to help us learn and grow—therefore even the most strictly compliant with God’s laws are not exempt from cancer, boating accidents, hunger, temptation, depression, the evil choices of other people, etc.)
But there is a problem. Or, at least, there could be if we are not careful. People who recognize right choices and wrong choices (even if they do so accurately) and who consistently make right choices may be particularly subject to the temptation of seeing themselves as good and others as (to paraphrase Megamind) less good. They may even see themselves as, gulp, “righteous”; and others as unrighteous. Ironically, they may judge, as the scriptures say not to do, unrighteously. Worse, they may refuse to accept and even to associate with those they see as, gulp again, “sinners.”
Yielding to such temptations would be an awful, tragic, mistake. Worse. It would be purely un-Christian. It would be such an incredible departure from the teachings of the Savior as to beg the question of whether the person (and I must ask: Lord, is it I?) really knows the Savior at all.
So, by way of reminder (or, perhaps, introduction), here are 22 moments during the Savior’s ministry – and these are just the ones captured by Luke! (there are others) – in which the Savior teaches acceptance and understanding for people of all kinds; he teaches to love the outcast; to love the sinner in spite of his sins. He doesn’t teach us to embrace sin or to condone people’s poor choices. And he doesn’t teach us to fail to judge between right choices and wrong choices. But in these examples, he associates closely with everyone from the most-looked-down-upon to those who were greatest in their own self-righteous eyes. Whether people were physically, mentally, or spiritually ill… whether they were sinners or strict observers of the commandments… whether they were feared or despised… he didn’t just love them from a distance; he loved them from a closeness. We must follow his example.
May we never let anyone be an outcast. And may we eschew Pharisaic judgment. “Two men went up to the temple to pray….” Let us be the one with clear and true vision. I hope these scripture references are helpful.
- Luke 4:18 — To heal the brokenhearted
- Luke 5:27-32 — With Matthew, the publican. And: “They that are whole…”
- Luke 6:20-26 — Blessed are the uncomfortable; cursed the comfortable.
- Luke 6:32:34 — If ye do good to them which do good to you…
- Luke 6:37 — Judge not, condemn not, forgive.
- Luke 6:41-42 — When thou beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye.
- Luke 6:46 — You don’t know the Lord if you’re not kind to the outcast.
- Luke 7:36-50 — Simon the Pharisee and the sinful woman.
- Luke 9:46:48 — Receive the least in order to receive Him.
- Luke 10:29-37 — The good (and despised) Samaritan.
- Luke 11:37 — Jesus dines with Pharisees (and not just publicans and sinners).
- Luke 14:7-11 — Whosoever exalteth himself.
- Luke 14:12-14 — Invite the outcasts.
- Luke 14:15-24 — Bring in the outcasts.
- Luke 15:3-7 — The parable of the lost sheep.
- Luke 15:8-10 — The parable of the lost coin.
- Luke 15:11-32 — The parable of the prodigal son.
- Luke 18:9-14 — Unto certain which trusted that they were righteous.
- Luke 18:22 — Yet lackest thou one thing.
- Luke 19:1-10 — Zacchaeus the publican. This day is salvation…
- Luke 22:24-27 — Which of them should be accounted the greatest.
- Luke 23:39-43 — Today thou shalt be with me.