Sunday, August 12, 2012
Hope for the Pharisee??
There is a lot of talk in the Church these days about "false teachers".
I do strongly recommend that if you're a Jesus follower, you should bring every teaching you take to heart and act upon before Jesus who is IN your heart. Only YOU are responsible for your actions.
I ALSO would point to the type of teaching that Jesus considered "false". It usually had to do with people who wanted to use power over other people or wanted to put them in bondage rather than Freedom and the "law" of Love that Jesus came to bring.
"Be careful," Jesus said to them. "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." They discussed this among themselves and said, "It is because we didn't bring any bread." Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, "You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don't you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don't understand that I was not talking to you about bread?
But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:6-12 NIV)
I have spent too much time in my life playing the self-righteous Pharisee. I think if we're honest, we all have a little Pharisee living inside us! There is a term I heard someone say once,
"I'm in the process of getting a Pharisectomy".
I LOVE THAT!
In the New Testament, Circumcision was the big deal. Whether or not Christians HAD to do that. I think today we should be considering whether or not we need to do a Pharisectomy. That is where I would like to consider myself. Working on how quickly I am to condemn others.
Interestingly enough, I struggle mostly now with wanting to condemn the Pharisee type. It's like a smoker who quits smoking. They are usually the ones who come down the hardest on smokers!
I have been hurt very badly by legalistic people throughout my life. Here is just one fine example among MANY I could share...
So it's very easy for me to want to see the Legalistic type "Get Theirs". One of the things that bothers me, is that the legalistic type of people feel that people like me will spend eternity in a different place. Or at the very least, get a good "scolding" or "suffer loss" when I reach the pearly gates! When I say people like me, I mean people who believe that the message of Jesus is ALL ABOUT Grace, Love, Truth (Jesus IS Truth) and Freedom!
I feel that there will always be more Grace and Love for people than we could EVER, EVER believe God is even capable of! That to me, is Faith. That this Good News message is even BETTER than we could ask or imagine. Even, for the Pharisee!!
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:18,19
So, back to "Wanting them to GET THEIRS"... I DO struggle with these feelings often. A mantra that I have been making myself pray every day in hope of healing, is:
"Father, please help me to love and to forgive ______, (I name them by name) For their gossip and their treatment of me. Help me see that I am NOT what they want me to think I am. Help them to see that too. Help me to have the heart that you did on the cross when you said, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." Please bring justice to my pain. Allow this pain to create something beautiful in me. Please help people forgive ME, whom I may have unknowingly made feel the same way. Help me to be humble when that is brought to my attention."
You see, there have been many people whom *I* have been a Pharisee type to in my life. Lately, when I have been treated wrongly by legalistic folk, I think back to a person that I had done the exact same thing to or had the exact same attitude about in the past. It's quite humbling... then I wonder if this is me, "Getting Mine".
That's a bad way to think though, isn't it? People take the scripture about Father "Disciplining those He Loves" and warp that SO BADLY! The whole Karma approach to God, as though he's going to Zap you in the future any time you do a really crappy thing.
If that were true, I'm DOOMED!
I cannot look at Father that way, and I won't.
There is a passage from CS Lewis' book, "The Horse and His Boy" that I have always loved.
The character, Arivis, is a young woman who tended to be rather selfish throughout the story. Her talking Horse, is named Hwin. There was a point in the story where she was running away from a lion while riding on Hwin and ended up being clawed in the back before she escaped. She did not believe in Aslan.
She and her horse at last meet the Great Lion, Aslan, face to face.
He speaks to Arivis and Hwin.
The horse says to Aslan, "Please, you are so beautiful. You may eat me if you like. I'd sooner be eaten by you than fed by anyone else!"
"Dearest Daughter," said Aslan, planting lion's kiss on her twitching velvet nose, "I knew you would not be long in coming to me. JOY SHALL BE YOURS!"
Then, he said to Aravis, "Draw near Aravis, my Daughter.
See! My paws are velveted. You will not be torn this time."
"This time, Sir?"
"It was I who wounded you," said Aslan. "I am the only lion you met in all your journeyings. Do you know why I tore you?"
"The scratches on your back, tear for tear, throb for throb, blood for blood, were equal to the stripes laid on the back of your stepmother's slave, because of the drugged sleep you cast upon her. You needed to know what it felt like."
"Yes sir. Please...."
"Ask on my dear," said Aslan.
"Will any more harm come to her by what I did?" asked Aravis.
"Child... I am telling you YOUR story, not hers.
No one is told any story but their own."
Then he shook his head and spoke in a lighter voice.
"Be merry, little ones!! We shall meet again soon!"
I have Hope in the fact that it is good to look back at the ways you have messed up and have learned from those messes. How they have SHAPED your life. I believe a good synonym for the word "Discipline" can be the word "Shaping".
It's really a comforting feeling to know how the Loving, Good Creator is working in YOUR story, on YOUR journey.
I know I have many lashes on my back that sting whenever the same hurts are done to me.
It's what keeps me from following the evil desire of wanting ANY ONE to "Get Theirs".
We need not worry about the OTHER persons' story.
He is working in theirs' too, whether Pharisee or Prodigal.
He is a Father who LOVES.