Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Are You A Pharisee? Am I?

A wonderful Christian friend of mine posted the following status update on her Facebook, “Wondering why Christians don't ENCOURAGE other Christians to be all they can and want to be for Christ. It isn't a contest is it? It hurts.” This woman has endured many trials. Her husband left when her children were young, her daughter was a teen mom, and her son rebelled, left home, and ended up spending time in jail. My friend has been judged, condemned, criticized, and abandoned. After all, her family is not exactly a poster family for Christian values. But, you know what? They are the perfect family to put on a poster that promotes forgiveness and family support. They are incredibly strong and resilient.

Why do some Christians feel compelled to point out the weaknesses and shortcomings of others? There are so many hurting people who are crying out and in need of some love and support. When challenges come and the waste hits the spinning blades, the last thing we need is to add aloneness and worry over what the gossips are saying about us to our list of problems.

When I was in the lake of sadness and fire, my Christian family stayed as far away as possible. It was almost as if they believed that my bad luck was an infectious disease. The more alone I was, the sadder I got. The sadder I got, the more desperately isolated I felt. We want to see the good in ourselves and sadly, many of us choose to look for the ugly in everyone else in order to prove our goodness. Luke 18:9-12 tells the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector: To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

Listen, all of us can be embarrassingly weak. I am thankful, however, to have seen brave strength at one time or another in every person I’ve ever known. Each one of us have goodness and kindness inside of us and even when others can’t see it, we must find the lens through which we can see it in ourselves. It is through the lens of pride that we see the weaknesses of others. When we present our inadequacies humbly to God, we will be exalted in His presence. The passage in Luke 18 continues with verses 12-14: "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Get off the Pew and reach out to someone in crisis. Pain, whether self inflicted or brought on by others, is NOT a contagious disease! Pouring criticism out over the wounds of the hurting might make ME feel better about ME, but it lessons who I am in the eyes of God. I don’t ever want to be compared to a Pharisee. Get off the Pew and see – really see – how your words cut deeply and leave lasting scars on the body and the family of God Himself! Get off the Pew!

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