“Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:10-14 NLT
Is it ever possible to be overqualified in the work of the Kingdom of God? This thought was in my mind recently, and wouldn’t go away easily. At first I focussed on the church leadership, not only of my own church but every denomination. But what about the good folks who turn up to praise and worship week after week? Are they qualified? At the end of the day, what makes any of us qualified at all?
In the Bible passage above, the pharisee is undoubtedly the qualified person in the story. The ‘sinner’ has no faith qualification recognised by their society, but Jesus said that it was he who was justified, and not the over-qualified and very educated, pharisee. Who’d have thought? But doesn’t this give you encouragement and pause for thought? It does me. Since Jesus is the true judge of all that’s right, and makes no mistakes, that means the Kingdom is not solely reserved for the university educated. Yes, most churches require their pastors to be educated to a minimum level before they are let loose on a congregation, but it is good to understand that the degree gained is not the entry pass into heaven. You and I can have that assurance too, as long as we behave like the sinner and ask God to be merciful to us!
Since we are all equally qualified, we are all part of the great commission because we are Jesus’ followers and it was Jesus who said: Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Mark 16:15 NLT. But, but… I hear you say, I am no good at talking to others, or reading and remembering things. I was no good in school and I’m no good now. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus thought of this too when He assures us: But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26 NIV. So, there is no doubt about it, you and I are well qualified and not over-qualified. Let’s face it, who would want to be that pompous overqualified pharisee anyway?