I think this topic has been percolating inside of me for quite a while. It’s a bothersome topic, I must admit. It buzzes around inside of my head like a hungry mosquito, so I figure that I need to do what I know I need to do.

When did Christians become so Pharisee-like? It’s so sad to me to see religion on full display. So many times, we walk around bound in the chains of a legalistic view of God. We wear our “Sunday Best”, sing our hymns, and nod our heads in the “Holy” way. We regard others with only middling interest at best. We take in the world, and see Christ through eyes that are trained only on what we regard are the rules, and pathway for getting into heaven. The “reward” of heaven is our ultimate goal. This makes me think so much about the Pharisees, and it has been irking me all week. Why can’t we just get out of our own way and make Christianity the heart issue that Jesus meant for it to be?

We can’t serve God with our brains. We think too much about the wrong things. We can’t serve God with our emotions. They are all over the place, and are not to be trusted when it comes to the things of God. Our intellect? It can’t truly perceive God because our knowledge is imperfect. The only way that we can really, and I mean REALLY know God is through our hearts and minds being transformed by the knowledge of the truth. This is knowledge that supersedes everything that we think we know, and every thing that we think that we are. It is a transformation from sinful to righteous that does not make sense, that we are not worthy of, and that we do not have to understand in order to walk in it.

The Pharisees, the Sanhedrin, and those guys were pieces of work.  They were the guys who prayed out loud in the square. They were the bible thumpers. They were the soapbox preachers. They were the judges, juries, and executioners of all things “godly”. At every turn, Jesus was slapping these guys around with a truth that they could not connect with. Even Paul, in Galatians 1, said that he spent 3 years in the desert. He had been so indoctrinated with the poison of religion that God literally had to isolate him and give him one on one tutorial in Kingdom Knowledge 101, before releasing him into the ministry that had been prepared for Him via the Holy Spirit. Yet, we do the same things. We worship a formless God with tightened lips and stiff hands, not realizing that the chains around our hands ad feet are real. We think that there is safety in being bound to the rules, that knowing the 10 Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer are good signs of living a good Christian life. I would submit to you all this morning that we have it all wrong.

Most of you know this. I know that there are so many churches out there who teach that relationship outweighs religion in the eyes of God. so, most of you out there get this, but it’s the ones who have not been liberated that I worry about. Often times, it is these brothers and sisters in Christ who others see and equate Christianity with. Who wants to be a Christian after observing these ways of life? It’s our job to show them our God in all of His beauty, honor, and love. By living legalistic lives, and lives that use rules and chains to define who God is, we instead give them over to all of the reasons why we should not even try to approach God, because we are not worthy in our own right. This is wrong.

Christ came to establish a Kingdom of Love. Love is His very nature. By this Love, we are known as Christians. By this Love, we can relate to Christ. This Love pushes us to become uncomfortable around others, to welcome those who may not “have it all together”. This love arrests us and forces us to live lives of vulnerability, to take chances and risks designed to mature us, and welcome others into the fold. I am convinced that our ultimate goal as Christians is not to make it to heaven. Heaven is just the cream and cherry on top of an uber tasty sundae. Our ultimate reward is witnessing the transformation of lives who have been changed by God’s love, just as ours are.

I could get off into other tangents, but that would not be the point. We simply must remember that without Christ, our “Christianity” is merely a form of godliness without the power thereof. We are no better than the Pharisees is we refuse to live lives of love, and walk free from the chains of rules. Christ’s love calls us to a way of life that is even higher than the rules we support and believe in. His righteousness is a higher definition of living. We can’t forget Christ. We can’t forget love. We can’t become Pharisees. People don’ t need those people. People need Jesus.

until next time, be blessed.