Posts tagged ‘Pharisee’

Christians-Christ= Pharisees

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.

Would You?

Acts 20:22-24 “But there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I’m completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. I do know that it won’t be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead. But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started; the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone Imeet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God. (MSG)”
Would you still go? I guess that’s the question. Would you still go? In the sermon yesterday, we were challenged to do whatever for the Kingdom. We were challenged to quit thinking so much, and praying so much, and just do whatever. When I say this verse from YouVersion for today, I immediately wondered if I would still go. 
As Christians, we know that we should not value our lives above the Gospel. We know that dying for the Gospel is an honor and a privilege.We read the stories about missionaries in dire situations, facing certain death, singing praises to God as they are herded towards the chopping block.Would you still go? If the Holy Spirit told you to go to the town just next to yours, and as you’re packing He comes back to you and tells you that when you return, you’ll be minus a limb, would you still go?
When did we become so comfortable? Gosh. Taking stock of my own life, I have played it so safe that it sickens me. I’m a thinker. I ponder every possible outcome of a situation and then decide which aspect is the safer route. It’s a trait that I have had my entire life. It’s why I allow my son the freedom to be impulsive, because I admire that spark in him. My reluctance toseize the moment has lead to me never trying out for American Idol, or anything like that. It’s paralyzed me with fear of failure, when I know in my heart thatthe only failure I could ever encounter is to never try. But as my Pastor spoke yesterday. I realized that the types of things that I desire from God will never come to me unless I can find a way to throw caution to the wind and put my mouth where I claim my faith to be. At some point, our actions must line up with what we confess! God has not called us to live lives that read like cautionary tales. The Christian life should be one of excitement, daring, risk.It is in those things that God really shows himself, and provides the resources to complete the mission. I believe that God will never allow a Christian who acts in faith, to fail. Even if we aren’t doing the exact thing that God wants for us, as long as we are doing SOMETHING to further His Kingdom, He will uphold that faith and provide the results HE desires.
I always believed that God will reveal His will if we wait.I’m beginning to see the error in that. My philosophy is changing. I nowbelieve that God will reveal His will if we act. Get out there and see what we can do to change the world. Get out there and see how we can change our household. See how well we interact inside of a ministry. See how well we workin a church department. Cultivate our skills and talents for God and then wait for Him to show specifically how He wants to use us in that arena or another,because He will shepherd us into His will. But we first have to get up and go! Paul understood this intricately.
As a Pharisee, Paul was a learned man. He had the benefit of the best teaching that money could buy. He was a brilliant thinker, and already had a penchant for being impulsive. God simply took these traits and put themto work in building the Kingdom. Paul was always willing to go, do, preach, and model. Even when he got it wrong, he was still ready to go, do, preach, and model.  Read Acts 16:6-11 to see what I mean. God had to put this brother to sleep in order to get through to him! But I’m sure that the entire time, God was laughing and proud of Paul’s insistence on spreading the Gospel. He lived with urgency, yet his own public ministry was longer than 3.5 years.
So, would you go? Would I go? I can tell you this. Jesus came. Jesus went. He knew what the outcome would be. He knew that He would not just suffer hardship. He knew that he would pay a price that only He could pay.Yet, He didn’t flinch.  He wanted to finish what His Father had started. He wanted to the world to know about the incredible extravagance of God’s grace! He only had 3.5 years to accomplish His mission.  How many of us spend 3.5years wallowing in self-pity and self-doubt? I can only say this because I have done the same at times. We wait on the assurance that God is with us before acting, when God has already said that He will never leave us or forsake us.When we read the Bible, what are we really understanding about God? Is He a charlatan? Is He not truth? Has He not sent us out to go and be a light and to preserve a dying world? Do we really believe Him? If we really did, I suspect that our world would be completely different. If we really believed God, we would never be comfortable, and at the ends of our lives the pages of our epistles would be littered with tears, rips, blots, and stains, because we lived our lives without regard for our lives in order to ensure that His name was made great among all nations.
In my heart of hearts, I want to do the same thing. I pray that I can get out of my own way, and God’s way, and just do whatever. I pray that I will allow the Holy Spirit to direct me, but that I would take advantage of every opportunity to spread the word about the Savior of the world. Whether this takes me into situations where I may be harmed, who cares? Jesus poured his life out for my sins. That is a debt that I can never pay, but I can be willing to give of myself in whatever way I can, to prevent this generation from seeing hellfire and brimstone.
So, would YOU go?
Until next time, be blessed.