|For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees |
and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Welcome, friends. Because I call you friend, I need to give you a fair warning. The post you are about to read may offend you. So, if you are feeling self-righteous today your
I alluded to the fact that I had more to say about this topic ( Some Build Empires... ) and basically have chickened out until now. But since this is supposed to be an exercise in authenticity, grace and truth, I need to speak it as I see it and trust that the truth will be written with a generous measure of grace in the end (freely I have received, freely I give).
I have been around the church for awhile. The church meaning the universal Body of Christ called out in newness of life. I have to say, I find it has been challenging at times to keep my eyes on Jesus. I have seen some stuff that has taken stronger believers than me out of the fight. I have seen many settle for some delusional "Christian" existence that reads zero on a scale of 1-10 with regard to anything resembling an authentic Christianity (as far as my Pharisaical eyes can see). I have seen my brothers and sisters succumb to temptation, walk away from the church, and never return. I see those who call themselves followers of The Way who won't return a casual greeting or kindness in their own fellowship of believers. I have seen leadership that abuses it's position and a loving group that graciously lives the message of Christ. I have seen a congregation turn on it's own leader and conspire against him behind his back. I've watched a church of over a thousand members be divided... leaving confusion, disillusion and pain in the wake. Yeah, I've been around the church awhile, and I've seen a lot of stuff. And it ain't all been pretty. Sorry, I warned you.
But, I have said it before and I will say it again. I am not down on my brethren, for better or worse I will stand with the church where God leads me and serve there because of His great love, grace, mercy and sacrifice. It's about Him and not about me. But I will tell you this. He cares about what I think. He cares about what I say. He cares about what I do. Why is that, you ask? Because He is in me. Because of this fact I can't "hate" my fellow believers. I find it's harder to give grace though, at times. Why, you ask? I will tell you friend. Because it is a slap in the face to Jesus when His children are so busy doing the same thing as the world does IE. judging, criticising, fighting, gossiping, slandering, blaming, labeling, name-calling, back-biting and EXCLUDING others (or favoritism) all while wearing a big, fat, phony, Christian disguise and a long face thinking that it is God's work. News Flash: The world is not buying it. Those who desire fellowship with the One True Living God are not impressed with it. The fact is, it does not bring anyone closer to Him nor is it glorifying Him. You know, in a family people need to learn to accept one another and get along. But, I think Jesus expects more. He wants us to choke our Inner Pharisee (kind of like the "child within" thing gone awry) and love one another. That means the person who you are too busy to smile back at when they smile at you, might instead emit a response. That means, making an effort, to not only speak to the same person in your congregational clique that you have conversed with every week for the past 10 years, but to speak to that new person who seems "different" to you. Yeah, that's right. Stretch yourself, friend. Jesus did just that for you. He stretched himself upon a cross and DIED, so you could live. So you could have the power to lay down your little inconveniences and GIVE to another who just might need an affirming nod, hello or hey, here's a wild thought - a hug! Or maybe a listening ear. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot- You don't agree with everything "they" believe, so that might be hard. NEWSFLASH again: That's OK! Back to that "stretch yourself" concept. Here's some questions one might ask, a Litmus test, so to speak. How available am I to the Lord's leading? When was the last time I respectfully, graciously spoke with someone who had different views, opinions or beliefs than myself? When was the last time I made a new friend?
Well, I think this concludes my offensive post for now. I need to go "get off my soapbox" (my husband's description) now and choke my own Inner Pharisee. You see, I learned a long time ago that it didn't take long after I became a Christian for that Inner Pharisee to show up and start parading around in my own mind and life. And no, I don't have this Christian life all wrapped up. Far from it. I have made some big, fat mistakes and walk, stand or crawl by His grace alone.
Here are a couple of books I have read that I like, along the same lines of thinking.
There are many, I just happen to think these were decent. None of these is perfect but hey, who's judging- I found them encouraging in due season. Each has it's pros and cons. I trust you can practice discernment.You may or may not agree with all in the books (good practice for Pharisees), but here they are:
I'm Fine with God...It's Christians I Can't Stand - Getting Past the Religous Garbage in the Search for Spiritual Truth by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz
So You Don't Want To Go To Church Anymore - An Unexpected Journey by Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman
The Unlikely Disciple - A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose
The Final Word from Colossians Chapter 3: 12-14
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
If you made it through to the end, be sure and share your thoughts. I am not easily offended, however I do occasionally whine... In between preachy soap box tirades about life.