09 April 2012
I Don't Want To Be a Pharisee 'Cause They're Not Fair, You See
Have you heard the song, "I Just Want To Be A Sheep?" I learned it a couple of years ago when my co-worker taught it to my children. There's a verse to that song that has these words... "I don't to be a Pharisee 'cause they're not fair, you see."
Last week, as I looked forward to celebrating Easter, I was once again reminded of what transpired in the tiny oasis country of Israel leading up to Jesus' crucifixion. The religious leaders, mainly the Pharisees and the Saducees, played a major role in the unfolding of the Old Testament prophets' words about the Messiah's sacrificial death for all mankind. One thing that stood out for me this time was the self-righteousness of those people. Their self-righteousness blinded them to see the truth. Not only that, it prevented them from reaching out to others or seeing the needs of others. In fact, they purposely separated themselves from others because, to them, everyone else wasn't good enough. Sound familiar?
We are just like the Pharisees. When we see redeemed and restored people who don't have an ideal kind of life in our mind and human standard, who don't have an ideal past, who have been scarred by sin and by personal battles, who don't have an ideal family life, who we think are less perfect than us, we turn up our noses in disbelief and tell ourselves, "I am better than they are." We try to shield ourselves, our children, our ideal life from being "contaminated" by those people.
So, what about love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness? Those are the very same attributes of God that placed us where we are now. Many times we think that people who have had messed up lives become totally useless... worthless... valueless. I hate self-righteousness. And I become a self-righteous human being when I begin to abhor self-righteous people. I forget to love. I forget to love God with all my heart and soul. I forget to love others the way God wants me to love them.
Two days before Jesus was hung on the cross, a woman who lived an openly sinful life, whose life was transformed by mere encounter with Jesus, poured out her love for Him by washing His feet with very expensive perfume and wiped them with her hair. (Luke 7 :36-50) The Pharisees were offended by it because of the woman's reputation. Simon thought it was such a waste. Jesus' response to them was, "He who has been forgiven much, loves much." That made me think... If I don't love God and others much, have I truly been forgiven of my sins? Do I realize the magnitude of my own sins that I may consider as minor? Do I have unconfessed sins that prevent me from coming to the ever-loving, ever-forgiving Abba Father?
As I think about that gloomy Friday when Jesus was crucified, it was the self-righteous people that hung him; myself included. My own sin put Him on that cruel cross. Hallelujah to the Risen Savior! Who forgives me, who gives me a second chance, and a third chance, and a fourth chance, and so on. I absolutely have NO right to self-righteousness! I am just as messed up as the next person. But yet... I am forgiven and I am loved.