Sunday, May 08, 2005

Are We Pharisees?

"There is no doubt that, in one way, the Pharisees were good men…It was the great merit of the Pharisees that they tried to take their religion seriously. They sought to make, not a mere gesture, but a real effort to attain righteousness… Their greatest mistake…was the supposition… that they had adhered so rigorously to the rule of perfection, they had actually attained it… [Christ] also warned against such ceremonial titles as “Rabbi”ie. “Doctor” and “Father”(Matt.23:8-10) and He prefaced this by showing how ridiculous the scribes made themselves by their little works of pride which distinguished them from other men…Mark’s version of this humorous exposure is, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and to have salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts”(Mark12:38, 39). It is not really surprising that this text comes to the mind of a good many literate men while attending college commencements or church suppers. "
(Excerpt from The Humor of Christ)

These are men who:
are trying to pursue righteousness
get too caught up in the "rules" of Christianity
begin to believe they are perfect, so Jesus mocks their inconsistencies
enjoyed being honored for their prestige saying its for God

I feel like a lot of these things are things i am struggling with as a Christian and a Wesleyan. I know my heart is right, but the differences between motivation and the qualities above are such a fine line that it is scary how easily i could mistake myself for a Pharisee. I wonder how many times Jesus would mock me for putting unnecessary rules on myself and others? I wonder how many times Jesus would mock me for the white lies i tell to keep up my "Christian" appearance? I wonder how many times Jesus would question how hypocritical i was with how flexible i am with my own spiritual convictions? Are we too close to being Pharisees?

(Disclaimer: I love the Wesleyan Church.... this is mere speculation and contemplation)


Anonymous said...

I think this selection about modern day pharisees is very applicable to many of us today. I know that many times I find myself getting too caught up in trying to fit the "Christian" mold and follow a certain set of rules. This absolutely wrong as Christ so clearly pointed out in the New Testament. Jesus contradicted everything the Jews had been taught by diminishing the role of The Law and establishing a much more free and universal standard...the standard of love. It is the basis of the New Testament, the New Covenant between God and his children. Instead of following a certain set of rules, we need to...I need to abide by the standard of love. Christ said the first greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God, and the second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself. If we show others our Christianity, not by parading some kind of outer law that doesn't help us inwardly, but by letting love rule our every action, then will people see the true Christ in us, and we will benefit as well. The pharisees are an excellent reminder for us all as we leave the IWU bubble and go back to our unsaved friends to show them Christ by our love, not by appearance based actions. Then will they see the true heart of Christ.

Anonymous said...

I really feel that you two are on to something because I go through so many days trying not to be fake with myself and with God. I feel that being raised in the church has hindered me in doing so because I have always been shown or told the way to live my life, when I think because of this it has taken me so long to truly find God for myself. I think it is great that the church today wants to mold us into Christ like people but when it comes down to it we need to as the church disciple the members not make them believe what we believe but challenge them through what God has shown us to seek Him for themselves.

B said...

good stuff... i really feel like my life application is that i will struggle just "telling" people what to do. I feel that i am probably already responsible for the "cookie cutter Christian influence." My focus and prayer will be that others will draw from my yearning and desire and that i will not have to give them mere guidelines of good and bad but guidelines of how to get to know the Person of Jesus better.

Anonymous said...

Your not the only one bro. Whether Wesleyan, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Baptist, whatever denomination, we all struggle with the same things. But here’s the thing, You admitting that You struggle with it. That is Christ working in your life. It’s not him mocking you, it’s Him saying that you’ve screwed up, you fell down. Your human, you where made to do that. Now with this stumble you come to a crossroads. You can get up, dust yourself off, and learn from your mistakes, or you can lie there and think about what might have been. Life is a learning experience. A big part of learning is persevering through your failures.
So yes, I agree that more often than not we are like the Pharisees. But more important, I believe that we can take this fact and turn it into a learning experience. We can grow closer to Christ through him showing us our faults. It’s all about the perspective.