I can put up with most people - their pettiness, awkwardness, and idiosyncrasies, etc. I have friends of all stripes. However, the one that rubs me the wrong way (here we go) is the religious person who sets himself/herself up as superior to everyone else or anyone else. It's obvious to me because it's how I lived for much of my life. Because I abstained from all the big sins, I considered myself morally superior - thus, more acceptable to God than those who were guilty. I even remember those in my circle who could heap guilt with a glance on any poor sinner than happened to "slip" in their presence.
It was not unusual for a member of any church I attended to call out another person's "sin" publicly, with great disdain of course. Don't dare let a four-letter word pass your lips, or let them walk up on your in a restaurant while you were having a glass of wine, or smoking, or smiling. Ok, maybe it wasn't quite that bad.
Still, in what chapter of the Bible did Jesus say that we're to loathe our neighbor? I'm pretty sure the word was love, not loathe.
I still remember when the Holy Spirit made it perfectly clear to me that all my abstaining from certain sins did not balance out the hidden sin in my heart, and it never would. There was only one remedy for my sin - His grace. At first, I wasn't pleased that I was being offered the same deal as the people I had mentally condemned. It wasn't fair. I had been GOOD! That's the attitude I still see that rubs me the wrong way. Those who look at sinners as if they are filthy and untouchable, well, they look at ME as if I'm filthy and untouchable. There they stand with their purity, apart from the rest of us because we dare to let a little dirt show. When in fact, when God looks at goodness and badness he doesn't compare it to anyone else's. He compares it to his holiness, and it never measures up. So he says, "Forget your goodness. Forget your holy acts. Just take mine. I have enough for you."
There are so many stories in the Bible that bear this out. One in particular is of two men who went to the temple to pray. One stood vocally grateful that he was so good, the other knelt recognizing his need for mercy. The latter is the one who went home justified, according to Jesus. (Luke 18:14)
Let's get real and lay down our self-centered pride. I know our religious pride is threatened when we choose to identify with "sinners." Still, Jesus gave us the example of how to do it. Isaiah wrote that "he was numbered with the transgressors," and Paul wrote that he "made of himself no reputation." It's time to renounce the religious hierarchy system. It's been said that the ground is level at the foot of the cross, so why do we try to exalt ourselves above others?
Kneel at the cross, there is room for all.