Are You More Like Christ or the Pharisee? Thoughts on Pride, Arrogance, and Christian Isolationism
With phylacteries flailing and a palpable pride in religious righteousness, the Pharisees believed and behaved as the brokers of God. These elite had it all together. They knew the right words, secret hand-shakes, and religious culture of the inner-circle of God. What’s more, these people believed their squeaky clean lives made them closer to God while the vulgar masses on the street, the broken, crippled, adulteress, tax-collecting crooks, had no hope of being in God’s presence—let alone be loved and touched by Him.
And while some 2000 years ago, this sect of God-followers wained, the same Pharisaic spirit thrives.
I am a Pharisee
Not just I, but thousands of others fill the pews and chairs of churches across the West. It is often overlooked and scarcely recognized, but Jesus spent little time with the churched—the religious club who fancied that they held a “monopoly” on God. In contrast, Christ touched the broken and diseased. He loved, walked with, and scandalously allowed the devotion and company of prostitutes and adulteresses.
Yet when one examines the church today, the local gatherings in cities across the country, many behave more life Pharisees and less like Christ—though they bare the name “Christian.”
Sobering though it may be, we must take a deep look in the mirror and ask, “Does my everyday life and accompaniment reflect more the life and love of Christ or the Pharisee?”
Truth be told, I feel more comfortable among the elite, uppity, Christian-bubble people than with homosexuals, prostitutes, drunks, and the diseased.
And when I think of “serving” or sharing the gospel in action with this segment of society, a distanced “I’ve-got-it-figured-out-but-I’ll-help-you” sort of pattern comes to mind. While arguably “better” than ignoring these people, a once-a-month feeding of the homeless in which we offer some cheap spaghetti slop and leave just in time to watch Law and Order does not align with the image of love, service, and sacrifice that Christ exhibited. It’s far more akin to the methods of the Pharisee.
Christ loved and lived on the same level with the broken and impoverished rather than from a place of arrogance—a drive-by offering and service. He touched. He fed. He spent time with and invested in the social outcast even when his social standing and cultural appropriateness was called into question.
He allowed the prostitutes to touch and wash his feet and sit in his presence in front of the religious.
If Christ had come today instead of 2000 years ago and came to a Church meeting in which porn-stars and prostitutes sat at his feet, touched him, and offered their “dirty” money as gifts, many scoffing words would be hissed and spoken under the breath against this “prophet.”
Christ is the example. Unconditional love and radical service was his method. And though he was God, he became the low and humble.
May our lives look less like the Pharisee and more like Christ.
THEOLOGY21 is a co-op of authors dedicated to renovating theology for a new generation, taking the ancient truths of scripture and theology and speaking to the post-Christian culture of the 21st century. To keep up-to-date on all things THEOLOGY21, Give our Facebook page a “like”, follow our twitter page, add yourself to our email list, or subscribe to our feed!