The spirit of the Pharisees, Lives on in the Church.

“Open my eyes Lord, I want to see Jesus”.

“Open your eyes – I am all around you – I am especially present in My Word – but I am also present in My creation – and in the love shown you by others. I am present but you can only see Me with the eyes of faith, hear Me with the ears of faith, feed on Me and obey me with the heart of faith. I am there with you ‘active’ in My Word, as in Hebrews 12, like a two-edged sword.”

Yes Lord I want to meet with You, not just in the written word, but in the Spirit who inspired that word, to understand the purpose, the ‘telos’ of each passage- verse- word – story – injunction. The written Word must lead me by the hand to meet the majesty of the Author of the Word – spoken to all, jointly – but to me personally – to meet me at the point of my need and instruct me. So Lord please continue to open your word to me, so that I may enter your rest (Hebrews 4:3, 11) that I may fully experience the state of blessing I am in.

My reading in Luke today 12:1-13, is a continuation of the confrontation that Jesus is having with the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. The various specific sins Jesus highlights are not difficult to understand. As I meditate on this whole section, it comes to me that it is often the “religious” people who are the biggest problem in the church and the world. Their witness is distorted by hypocrisy – the danger of their teaching is that they twist the word of God, taking away its power to liberate and laying burdens on people’s backs. It is the religious people who often turn on each other and tear each other apart, often over unimportant points of doctrine. It is they who seek to form cliques of “like-minded” individuals, effectively excluding others from the gospel. It is the religious people who so distort the word of God to make it suit their particular petty sins eg the whole gay issue.

My unbelieving son Jean recently made a telling statement: I asked him how the people in England are taking “Brexit”. His answer was it is a fait accompli, now people either believe in it and embrace it or reject it completely. It is like religion he said. In other words you either believe in “religion” or you don’t. How much of a role have religious people played in causing him to make choice not to believe? So the outsider often sees the church as a sea of frowning religious faces looking down on them, ready to condemn them, instead of a kaleidoscope of beautiful flowers in the garden of God, ready to enfold and welcome others into the warm embrace of a relationship with the Father.

The frightening thing is that the seeds of the Pharisees lie within each one of us, hypocrisy, showing one face to the world and the church and having another private one, the seeds of pride, wanting to be seen doing good works to get accolades from others and maybe even from God, The seeds of legalism, finding your Christianity a burden and laying burdens on other’s backs and so on, the list is there in Luke. The solution is simple yet difficult to maintain. The writer to the Hebrews writes “Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall…..” (Heb 4:11) Yes the abundant life, the life of God’s promise is described as that rest, where we cease from striving to please God, but the apparent contradiction is that we must make ever effort to enter. There are so many forces working against our entering His rest on a daily basis, that we need to face them head on, with the knowledge that we have the full power of the Holy Spirit with us. Without being constantly alert we will fall into the trap of become legalistic, becoming religious.

Friends, let us go out there and become part of the solution and not part of the problem. We have the potential, through God’s Spirit of being the most beautiful, desirable flower in His garden.

3 Replies to “The spirit of the Pharisees, Lives on in the Church.”

  1. Ian I can fully understand your frustration. My heart is also suffering because of the church’s sad situation.

  2. Hi Ian, it is sad, Jesus said it is better to have a stone around the neck if you stumble one if His children. I agree that we continually be close to Jesus and His Word and love each other with the love of the Father.

  3. Whoever speaks let it be as one speaking the utterance of God . Whoever serves let it be with the strength that God supplies. So in all things may God be glorified through Messiah Jesus Christ all glory and power to Him forever and ever. Amen .. 1 Peter 3 11

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