I used to think that Pharisees were like an extinct dinosaur only to be found in the pages of the bible, like a dragon in the pages of a fairy tale. But alas my hopes and dreams have been burst. Unfortunately my wife was the one who got to experience the acts of this religious elite.
This relic of legalism is unfortunately not that rare. There are plenty of people who think they are doing the right thing by being judgmental and unloving. Though I’m not an expert I think the Pharisaical malady comes from self-centered a faith. A narcissism of faith. They look around at other people and say to them selves ” I’m not as bad as that person” or I’m not doing the awful things those other people are doing”. That idea presupposes that sins have a rank, and some are worse then others.
The reality is we all are broken and sinful, and we all need the blood of Jesus to cover us.
I was talking to a friend (not a follower of Christ) who retold the story of how he defended Christians when his friends told him that all Christians are judgmental and condemning. Unfortunately I think his friends have experienced the dreaded Pharisee. These odd creatures seem to think that they are the worlds moral compass.
I think a lot of Christians have read Matthew 18:15-17, about how to deal with conflict within the church and they make two mistakes. 1) they think that this is how they should treat everyone,i.e. they confront everyone on their sins or mess-ups. Uh . . . . No! This is specifically how you treat members of the body, Christ followers. 2) They assume verse 17 means to kick people out of the church or cut them out of their lives for leading a bad life, because it says “treat them like you would a pagan or a tax collector.” Historical point, it was the Pharisees who didn’t socialize with pagan’s and tax collectors.
On the first point, there is no reason to keep someone, anyone, accountable for living a lifestyle they have not agreed to. It is the Holy Spirits job to convict people of their sinfulness and not ours.
On the second point, “treating people like pagans and tax collectors”, How did Jesus treat these people, the pagans and tax collectors. Well . . . He did ask one to be his disciple (Luke 5:27-32), and then he went to hang out with his friends at a big party.
There are two more telling stories of how Jesus dealt with tough situations. In John 4:1-27 Jesus meets a woman who’s been married five times and is living with a man who is not her husband, and John 8:1-11 a poor woman caught in the act of adultery (not an easy place to be for Jesus but more for this woman). In either case Jesus did not cut them out or separate himself from them, instead he loved and cared for their souls.
If Jesus loved and cared for broken hurting people and railed against the religious elite, why do we ostracize people and act like the we’re better then everyone else. As followers of Christ lets follow his example, sounds almost to simple.