Pharisee

{59/365} “Jesus ate twenty-five Pharisees. yeah, that’s totally what Jesus would do: if you don’t agree with someone, eat them.” — Tim Hawkins // last night we ventured out into the cold to see TH & it was just continuous laughter for two straight hours. yay for new friends & sore faces from smiling.

How Can I Be "Radical" And Have A "Crazy Love" Kind of Faith?

infinite-fela asked:

Hello pastor … Gonna ask you something. How am I supposed to react on this: I’ve been reading the book Crazy Love of Francis Chan, it’s about loving God for real-walking the talk, and I am really moved on it. I want to do the same. I think about things I need to do for Jesus then I feel good about it then when I re-think about it again, I feel like not doing it because it’s hard and I feel so bad about it.

 

Hey my dear friend, I must first confess that I’m a Francis Chan fanboy for life.  He was one of the first pastors I ever really got into, and I absolutely love his preaching and his heart for Jesus. He’s the real deal. He also has a heartbreaking testimony, and I admire his continual ministry for the poor and to alleviate poverty and hunger.  If you didn’t know, he helped to start up Children’s Hunger Fund and also gave away his entire two million dollars of royalties from book sales to charity.  And perhaps his most famous sermon continues to impact how I live today. [Warning: That sermon could ruin your life.]

His book Crazy Love was pretty good, but I personally think his book Forgotten God is still his best work, and possibly could’ve sold more if it had a more appealing title.  It was one of those books in my faith-journey that actually helped me to break my fifteen year porn addiction.

The one thing with Francis Chan, and other similar pastors, is that they’re speaking to a lukewarm audience of halfway Christians.  He is speaking to those that call themselves Christians but really only have the name-tag.  So the intent of his preaching and writing is for a convicting gut-check to the lukewarm.

In that sense, if you come from a very legalistic church that crippled you with moralistic anxiety, then a “gut-check” is not for you.  A Christian who tend towards legalism needs the uncomfortable, unsettling, reckless grace of God. If you’re a person who’s constantly worried that you’re not doing enough or not “productive,” then I would be very careful to take too much of this kind of medicine.

 

We all have two extremes.  There’s the Lukewarm and the Legalist.  It’s the Prodigal Son and the Religious Elder Brother.  On one end, we need rebuke. The other end needs rest.  One end needs to fight; the other needs to unclench. The lukewarm needs a wake-up call; the legalist needs a pillow and a prayer. 

When you read a book like Crazy Love or Radical or Don’t Waste Your Life or Not A Fan, please keep in mind these are written for the lukewarm.  They would not be appropriate for the hurting person who came from a restrictive, toxic, repressive church-culture.  And if in any way they are causing you either guilt or pride, please have a heavy discernment in how you read these books and apply them wisely.

On days I need my butt kicked into high gear, I listen to Francis Chan or John Piper.  On other days I need encouragement or rest, I listen to Timothy Keller or Andy Stanley.  Of course, all these pastors have elements of both grace and truth, and I’m not saying one is better than the other.  But each is inclined towards a different part of my condition.

Each day, we need both grace and truth applied in uniquely different ways to where we are flailing. That’s the beauty of the multi-layered Gospel. Some days when we’re discouraged, we need restoration.  Some days when we’re drifting and complacent, we need reality.  Look at how God told Isaiah to tremble and Jeremiah to stop trembling.  Look at how Jesus was short with Martha but tender with Mary.  Look at how the angels were sharp with Balaam and so caring with Elijah.  And yet God did not love them any less than the other. 

You see, God always knows exactly what you need.  He knows if He must enter gently with both hands, or if He must run at you with the force of a freight train.  Wherever you are, God will meet you there. But you must not force yourself with the wrong remedy for today, or you’ll do yourself deep harm.  You must not muster up false feelings to “add” or “subtract” what God is doing, or else you’ll run in circles second-guessing your faith and wondering why you don’t look like those other Christians. 

We each have our own tempo, and we often know exactly when we need discipline or when we need deliverance.  We each have a rhythm, a temperament, a particular way we’re driven, and both grace and truth will get us there. 

— J.S.

Church People

It’s interesting how we judge the church. Not just as non-Christians or former Christians, but as fellow Christians. Everyone hates being judged and held to a perfect standard — but that doesn’t fight hypocrisy. It fuels hypocrisy. It’s how we justify our own judgmental, high standards.

Before I list some examples, let me be clear: I know there are a lot of people in the church who do need to change their attitude. I’m not defending cruel behavior. If you’ve been hurt by the church or by church people, you go ahead and feel hurt. The problem I have with this situation is what we end up doing with that pain.

A member of my family is struggling to free herself from prescription drugs. Ages ago, after finally returning to church with us, she stopped the reverend and told him about her problem. “He didn’t do anything,” she complained to us later. “I never want to go back there again.”

My husband and I were speechless — sympathetic and flabbergasted. We hadn’t stayed long after the service ended, which means she’d approached him during the meet-and-greet, when everyone files out and shakes hands with the preacher (or in our case, gets a hug from the preacher). Did she just walk up to him and say something like, “I have a pill addiction”? Talk about awkward! What was he supposed to do?

"That’s what office hours are for," my husband vented to me privately. It’s hard for him to see her struggling with this. I agreed that she definitely should have told the reverend about her problem in private, when he wasn’t being assailed by every person in the building. But how could we point this out to her while assuring her that we were on her side?

That’s the funny thing about being “on someone’s side.” A lot of people seem to think you’re obligated to nod and tell them, “You’re right, that person is ridiculous, there’s nothing wrong with you.” It’s what they expect. And if the situation is more complicated than that… well, you must be the enemy, too.

Just last Wednesday, I found the same reverend walking energetically through the fellowship hall. He’s a tall guy with a big white beard, soft-spoken and cheerful. He was wearing a red sweatshirt with Snoopy and Woodstock in Santa hats. “A visitor asked me to pray for his mother,” he told me. “I hope they didn’t leave.”

I envisioned them going home in a huff, complaining to themselves how no one in that church had showed any concern for them. How dare that man call himself a reverend! He said he would pray for them! He doesn’t even care!

A while back, while researching acephaly, I stumbled upon the blog of a woman who was coping with the loss of her son. She explained that going to church was hard for her — after the child’s death, she had made it clear to everyone in her church that she wanted her privacy. She wanted to mourn in peace. “But I didn’t mean like this,” she complained. She was angry that no one had sent cards or asked how she was.

It’s alright to feel angry. Especially if you’re going through an ordeal. But what I couldn’t help wondering was, What were they supposed to do? She’d asked them to leave her alone. They had left her alone. And now she was judging them for it.

Another family member once made it clear that he still considered himself a Christian, but he was “done” with church. You’ve all heard this one. Sick of the drama. Sick of the politics. So many intelligent, compassionate Christians disconnect themselves from the “body” for that reason — but that isn’t an excuse not to help. It sounds like a reason to help. If you’re a rational person, you have an obligation to keep other Christians in check. Especially if you think you’re one of the only ones! You’re someone we need in church most!

A few months ago, a new family left our church and said they weren’t coming back. The reverend, with unusual irritability, explained from the pulpit that a few folks had been gossiping about the newcomers. “If you can’t provide a welcoming environment,” he suddenly shouted, “maybe you need to leave!”

I disagreed with that conclusion. If the church is a hospital for sick souls, then we need to admit not just the people who have doubt or depression, but the people who are cranky and gossipy, unfriendly and judgmental, too — those, also, are legitimate problems. Cutting these people off from fellowship is perpetuating the same problem, “burning the bridge over which we must cross.”

Church isn’t about you, and it isn’t about me. Church is about us. If everyone attends with a “what’s in it for me” attitude, we aren’t going to get anywhere. We are here to serve each other, even if the people we’re serving are making us look bad. Jesus didn’t only reach out to prostitutes and tax collectors. He also met with Pharisees. It was a Pharisee who first heard John 3:16.

Just as church isn’t about you and me, Christianity isn’t about you and me. It’s about Christ, who made Himself a servant to people who hated Him, and to all who definitely deserved His wrath and judgment. If we can’t do the same, then we aren’t Christians.

I’m sorry that so many people are people. I really am sorry about all the unfair expectations, the unfair assumptions, the mistakes, the frustrations. But that’s life with humans, and we still need each other. And if you really are above all that — if you know how to help someone with an addiction, how to comfort someone in loss, how to make someone feel welcome — then for Christ’s sake, stay in the church!

Related: You Don’t Fight a Fire with Gasoline

Now this you don’t see every day, even in Ukraine:

Vice speaker of Ukrainian Parliament throttles deputy

Vice speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Adam Martynyuk, on the right, throttles deputy Oleg Lyashko during a session in the chamber of the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev on Wednesday, May 18, 2011. According to reports, Lyashko had just asked Martynyuk to let him make a speech, which Martinyuk refused to do on procedural grounds. Lyashko then apparently called his interlocutor a Pharisee, at which point it was on.


via Boing Boing

why is it that christians are so obsessed with debating and being heard? why is every facebook status or unrelated question an opportunity to share how knowledgeable you are about the bible? why is it christians have become the ones to preach instead of the ones to listen, or the ones to judge instead of the ones to show grace? the pharisees were knowledgeable about the bible, and knew the law inside and out, always making sure to look good and pray loudly and tithe openly. but the real christian is the one who sacrifices all that they have, prays quietly and volunteers without recognition.

Gamaliel, the Pharisee who feared God.

The story of Gamaliel has really been speaking to me. It’s found in Acts 5. The apostles were arrested by the high priest and thrown into prison for speaking in the name of Jesus. That night, an angel of the Lord opened their cell doors and told them to return to the temple and continue to preach the gospel in Jesus’ name. They did just that and were promptly rearrested. This time, the captain of the guard brought them straight to court. Here, Peter made a bold defense of Jesus and the gospel:

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:29-32)

After hearing this testimony, the Pharisees and teachers of the law wanted to stone the apostles, but Gamaliel, himself a Pharisee of high standing, stopped them:

But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” (Acts 5:34-39a)

How powerful were Gamaliel’s words! "For if this plan or this undertaking…is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!"

Would our witness be as powerful as that of the apostles. Would God work mightily in our lives and would no one be able to overthrow us because we are ever convinced and unashamed that God is life and that he alone can save.

What Would Jesus SAY?

A lot of the things that I write stem from conversations I have. I am finding that my interactions with other people, christian and non christian, are shaping so much of what I believe. Comparing my faith not only to the teachings of the bible but of the world I see around me has helped me to become so on fire for Jesus. It makes me want to live and act like he did.

In the conversations I have with people, disagreements happen. Sometimes these disagreements happen when I think that what the other people say does not match up with what the bible says or what Jesus taught. My first response is to call them out, and I think, to a certain extent, Jesus does this to tons of people. In my conversations with a fellow “christian” this topic came up. I was sharing about my experience in a discussion with some high schoolers and my friend did not agree with my tactic. She said things like “well did you tell them they were wrong?” and “how could you let them walk away believing the wrong thing?”. I’m beginning to realize how relational Jesus’ ministry was.

He called out people like the pharisees because of the relationship they had. The pharisees weren’t looking to learn from Jesus, but to catch him somehow doing something wrong or saying the wrong thing. Although when Jesus talked to the woman at the well, or Zacchaeus, or anybody who wasn’t jewish, Jesus didn’t call them out. He wasn’t quick to tell them how wrong they were, or that they were going to hell. He showed love, and through that love these people saw God. 

Let’s be honest God is big enough to change peoples hearts, I don’t think he really needs me. This isn’t to say that he doesn’t use us in profound ways to impact peoples lives, but instead of telling somehow how wrong they are, at least for me, I will begin to think about Jesus’ method. I don’t think it would be inaffective in today’s culture just because someone did it 2,000 years ago. We should love people first. I honestly think that if we love them like Jesus loved us, they will see God. Besides, Jesus said “love your neighbor as yourself”, not “prove to everyone that you are right”.

pharisee father

is it wrong if a person does not know how to recite the rosary?

does the father have to scold his son every time he makes a mistake while reciting?

is it wrong to defend your brother while your father keeps on scolding him?

this month is the rosary month. as filipinos we have a tradition on praying the rosary together as a family. but i think it is useless because no value is shown at all. i’ll tell you isn’t it we should forgive and understand evrything? so why should he be scolding him for the mistakes and says that the whole rosary thingy is pointless because my brother does not know how to recite the rosary and keeps on moving and shaking his head and alot of things that you may consider as playing around. well, since i was a kid i teased my brother about his failure that made him cry so now that i’m all grown up i have this sense of understanding for his short comings. i just hate how my father keeps on degrading him

we were in the last mystery when my brother said holy mary instead of hail mary and then my abnormal father said stop playing around. then i said its okay he just made a mistake and then my dad said stop defending him and then said “this is pointless” and leaves. we still continued the rosary but in my head i wanted to kill him. yeah i know that was bad but come on, he started it.

after the rosary he tells me to stop defending my brother and i replied stuff about him insulting my brother. then he said he wasn’t doing it and that i missed interpreted it. our debate lasted for 10 minutes with him pointing a finger to me. this is annoying, he thinks that he is right and that no one shall go against him.

well guys, this is my father. i have been stuck with him for 17 years. if you’re annoyed right now, you haven’t heard all of it.

i swear on this day on i will be the one to end you life

most annoying father in the world

The Publican and the Pharisee

The fact is, that most of us are nowhere near as good as the Pharisee was.

  • He gave to the temple.
    • This means he gave one tenth of his income to the Church. How many of us, no matter how poor we are, do that? Many will say, “I am just a poor student on an allowance.“. True, how many students would ever consider giving one tenth of their allowance, and believing God will look after them?
  • He fasted.
    • How many of us fast. We smile and say the law has changed. This is true. However, how many of us would bother fasting on Wednesday and Friday. For that matter, how many even remember there is a Wednesday fast? Wednesday is the day Judas betrayed Christ, and Friday of course is the day Christ was crucified. How many of us observe a strict observance fast in Lent? Please remember that Advent is a period of fasting. It has now become a period of pre-Christmas partying. The Pharisee observed all his fasts, and observed them well.
  • The Pharisee would have known all the ritual prayers, and let us be honest, most of them are forgotten.

Look at the streets on Sunday morning and see how many people go to Church to pray with a believing community. Most people today, simply do not believe in God. The Pharisee did. Let us not be too judgmental regarding the Pharisee, because we ourselves may not measure up to him.
However, the publican, a man who was objectively a bad person, really understood his sin and knew he was bad and asked forgiveness. The difference between the two is that they were both sinners. They had different sins, granted, but they were both sinners. One was sorry for his sins, and the other was so filled with pride, he did not even recognize the fact that he too was a sinner.

Hypocrisy is a big sin in the Christian community and when the world looks at us, they often see double standards. Yes, we are imperfect and yes, we sin. The truth is that we cannot judge without being judged ourselves. We need to examine our own eyes before we examine others. If we are being called hypocrites, there is probably a reason for that. The best way to banish hypocrisy is to try our best to avoid sin and to let Jesus help us. Sometimes we are too busy being Pharisees and the world does not see Christ, but arrogance and self righteousness. We are called to a higher standard than this.

Let’s not get religious about being anti-religious. When people sing ‘Holy Spirit come’, they are really saying, ‘Lord, we can’t feel you right now and we want to, please help us to feel you.’ When they say, ‘we want more of You, Jesus’, they really mean ‘I don’t feel loved right now and I want to’, or ‘I don’t love people and I really want to’. When they sing, ‘make me clean, God’, they mean, ‘I feel dirty because I don’t know you made me righteous, please help me’. We can get so caught up in correcting people’s theological statements that we miss the point: there are broken, hurting people in the house, in every house, that need to feel clean, loved, wanted, and cared for. If a song doesn’t jive with your theology and that shuts you down from being able to still engage in worship with Jesus, there is a missing element to your relationship with Christ. Change the words if you have to, but continue to ‘let the love of Christ dwell in you richly’.

The problem with legalists is that not enough people have confronted them and told them to get lost. Those are strong words, but I don’t mess with legalism anymore. I’m 72 years old; what have I got to lose? Seriously, I used to kowtow to legalists, but they’re dangerous. They are grace-killers. They’ll drive off every new Christian you bring to church. They are enemies of the faith. Other than that, I don’t have any opinion! So, if I am trying to force my personal list of no-no’s on you and make you feel guilty if you don’t join me, then I’m out of line and I need to be told that.
—  Chuck Swindoll
In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements. The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people. But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh?
—  Pope Francis, TIME magazine’s 2013 Person of the Year. (x x)
Where everyone else and every other system demands I prove my smarts, my resume, my sexual prowess, my outgoing-ness, my ability to follow the three-points — there is a sacred space where I can quit selling myself. I am pre-approved here, qualified before I walk in the door. There is even acceptance here for legalists, for Pharisees, for those who burdened others with the rules they failed to keep themselves.

In this place, the rules are helpful, but they are not the ultimate measuring stick for my worth. They are not the be-all, end-all. They cannot tell me if I’m good enough or not enough. They help my behavior, but not who I am becoming. They only remind me that I fail, and they point to the one who doesn’t.

If the story of Jesus is true, that means:

I can rest. I can relax. My motivation is NOT in gaining acceptance: but it starts in the acceptance He has already given. I can find resolve by knowing He resolved to find me first. I can fight, because He fought for me.
—  J.S. from this post

New Testament genderswapIndira Varma as the apostle and betrayer Judas Judith

Her father named her for a story. After a woman who strode into the enemy camp for the sake of her people, armed with honeyed words and a silver sword; a woman who returned to her people clad in enemy blood, carrying the general’s head as a trophy. And she was called most blessed, among all the women of the earth.

Judith does not know what lesson she was meant to take from the tale. The one she gets is: Someday, Adonai will send you a battle. Be ready to wield the sword.

But no one will give an adolescent girl a sword, so she makes do with a pair of sharpened daggers hidden beneath her cloak. The Sicarii teach her to stab, quick and clean as a needle, and then retreat, melt away into the crowd. No one suspects the demure Jewish girl, and she hides behind her mitpachat the way her namesake hid behind her ornaments.

All the Sicarii ask in return is that she hate the Romans, and that is easy enough—the brutish centurions, with their filthy stares; the fatted merchants with their greasy smiles and false devotion in temple; the Herodians, who must be nearly bent double in order to wrap their lips around Rome’s thick—

(And woe to the nations that rise up against her kindred.)

Judith is out walking when one of the many prophets in the square catches her eye. She does not know why she stops for him—there is nothing remarkable about his face, nor his speech. His is the same empty rhetoric of repent, repent, the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. (Why do they say “at hand,” she wonders, when it always seems to hover, a little out of reach? And why do the prophets merely speak of it, rather than fighting for it, shedding blood for it?)

She is about to walk on, to leave him. But then the dust-roughened prophet looks straight at her, a smile playing about his lips. I am the way, the truth, and the life, he says, his voice almost—almost—lost in the bustling square. No man come unto the Father, but by me.

Judith’s heart pounds, her ears ringing with the sound of distant trumpets. Adonai has called her forth, and Judith is finally ready to draw her sword.