I am a Pharisee

Why is the modern church such a miserable failure? Jesus would shake the dust from his feet, call us whitewashed sepulchers, and weep. But for some reason we don’t realize it. We think we’re Jesus’ happy followers, when really we’re nothing but Pharisees.

I’ve known much of this, but for some reason it’s never sunk in. Recently I’ve been reading a few books that have smacked me upside the head with the revolutionary idea of what Christianity is really about (The Jesus I Never Knew, When Bad Christians Happen to Good People, and What’s So Amazing About Grace?). I’ve known that Christians are surprisingly like Pharisees, but it’s never sunk in. I’ve never realize how much of a Pharisee I am.

Christ didn’t come to condemn the world, he came to save it. Yet Christians spend their time condemning the world, picketing gays and bombing abortion clinics. Jesus said let he who is without sin cast the first stone, but we’re already laying blame, effectively hurling rocks on our own heads. Jesus said to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Anything less is sin. The bar’s pretty high and obvious that we’re all sunk. That’s the point. Yet we decide that some sins are okay, and some are definitely not. Having a beer is not good, but being overweight is okay. Premarital sex is a big no-no, but divorce is okay. Listening to secular music is not good enough, but being greedy is just fine.

The church has fallen so short of the glory of God. And that’s okay. We’re human. We’re supposed to fall short. Unfortunately we try to reach the glory of God on our own, and in turn rely on amazing pride instead of amazing grace. It should break our hearts that when someone turns away from God, they’re so often turning away from a Christian who is more Pharisee-like than Christ-like. If only that person who turned away knew that Jesus flipped over tables because of the very same thing that turned them off.

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