Today's Sunday School lesson was from Luke 18. It was about the Pharisee and the Publican. They both went to the temple to pray. The Pharisee prayed loudly, so everyone could hear him. He boasted about how he had fasted, and what he had done, and how much he had tithed, etc. all during his "prayer". The Publican, knowing that everyone hated him anyway because of his job as a tax collector, was humble and couldn't even look up. He knew he'd done wrong. He simply asked "God be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13).
I usually start my class with a visual example of the actual lesson and today was no different. This morning I went in with a pretty gift bag loaded with pretty paper and a bow. I asked my class who wanted to open the pretty gift and of course they all anxiously raised their hands. Well, since I had so many volunteers who wanted to tear into it, I opted to open it myself - slowly - so all could see. I pulled off the pretty bright green bow. Then pulled out the nice bright tissue paper. Then I reached in ever so slowly and pulled out... a nasty, muddy, sopping wet rag. The looks on the kids' faces was interesting! I think the example was a "hit"!!!
The nasty rag represents our sin. The point is/was that even those who look all pretty and clean and fancy on the outside, could be nasty, rotten and dirty on the inside. You don't have to roll around in the mud (as our good friend's little girl was doing yesterday :) to be dirty and nasty in God's eyes. God knows us - inside and out. There's nothing that we can do, or say, or pay, etc. that gets us into heaven. It's only trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ. Much like the "gift" I took to my class today, salvation is freely given. Unlike the gift I took - what's inside is salvation - a gift like none other!