Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Accidental Pharisee?

On Sunday we visited a church called Mars Hill with our nephew Ryan and his girlfriend.  I have listened to their pastor, Mark Driscoll, via podcasts on and off for years.  But Mark wasn't preaching this week.  A man named Dr. Larry Osborne did, and after being greatly encouraged by his preaching, I decided to look him up to see what else he has available online.  One of the first things I came across was introducing a book he has written titled Accidental Pharisee.  Though I want to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, I was convicted that still, all too often, I fall into the very things he mentioned in his's a slice of it, pasted in blue (the rest can be found HERE). 

Here’s a brief list of six of the most telling indicators that we may have inadvertently started down the path of an Accidental Pharisee, looking down on others and trusting in our own righteousness.
  • First and foremost is a deepening sense of frustration and disdain for those at the back of the line. Instead of a Jesus-like compassion for those who can’t keep up, we view them with cynicism and a cocky arrogance.
  • The second warning sign is a spirit of exclusivity. When thinning the herd becomes more important than expanding the kingdom; or raising the bar becomes more important than helping people climb over it, something has gone terribly wrong.
  • A third indicator is the addition of extra-biblical rules and expectations. Few of us would see ourselves as legalists. We think we’ve moved on from old school legalism because we no longer judge people by what’s in their refrigerator. But the spirit of legalism still runs strong. We now judge people by what’s in their driveway and how big their house is.
  • A fourth symptom is a pattern of idolizing the past. Whether it’s the New Testament church or the scholars of old, we tend to give them a free pass for their failures. But the present day Bride of Christ and the current crop of leaders that Jesus has put in place are assailed for their blind spots, failures, and feet of clay. Like the Pharisees of old, we rip on the living prophets and then build monuments to them once they die.
  • A fifth sign that something has gone wrong is a quest for clone-like uniformity. Jesus had room for Simon the Zealot and Matthew the Tax Collector. Yet sometimes, the more biblically grounded we become, the less room we have for anyone who hasn’t yet learned all that we’ve learned. The result is a circle of fellowship that’s tighter than Jesus’s circle of acceptance.
  • The sixth and final indicator that we’re becoming an Accidental Pharisee is something called “gift-projection.” It’s the toxic belief that my calling is everyone else’s calling. It disfigures the body of Christ by insisting that ears become eyes and hands become feet. It looks like passion for the mission. But in reality, it’s chocolate covered arrogance.
Does any of that strike a chord with you too?   Together, let us lay aside the filthy rags of our own self-righteous haughtiness and gladly put on the robes of His righteousness.  

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly 
and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
~ Micah 6:8 (NIV)

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