Thursday, February 7, 2013

I Was Called a Pharisee, Is That A Bad Thing?

The cool Pharisee

Let's get this out in the open: Jesus wasn't too fond of the Pharisees. Anyone who just finished reading the gospels with Oceanside knows that. Jesus called the Pharisees Sons of Hell, white washed tombs, and vipers. Those aren't names you want Jesus calling you. The Pharisees had some major problems (like killing Jesus), but maybe all of them weren't all bad.

You see, the other day I was talking with a friend about a particular belief, and this friend called me a Pharisee. Couldn't he have just called me satan? That really bothered me. I argued my point, but the whole time the name Pharisee rang through my head, because I equated them with the things I mentioned above. I was highly offended, but also a bit ignorant.

To help alleviate my ignorance I did a little research. I wanted to know who they were, where they came from, and what they believed. And I found out a few of interesting things:

  • They were a political party (Not exactly like Conservatives or Liberals, but something kind of similar)
  • They followed the Old Testament Laws meticulously
  • Believed in miracles
  • Were waiting for the Messiah (But obviously missed Him)
  • Stood up for their beliefs even if it meant death
Let's be honest, the laws in the Old Testament are specific and strenuous. The Pharisees were the guys the people looked to for clarification on the laws. That's how we get things like: If the Law says wash your hands we're saying you should wash ALL the way up to your elbows, ya know, just to be safe.

It's like my mom did with me and cussing. My mom didn't just say we couldn't cuss. She also said we could not use the much tamer non-cursing Christian filler words. If she heard us saying those tamer words we would get in trouble. To help you not break the actual rule we're going to make another rule that keeps you reeeeaaaally far away from the actual rule. Then you'll be safe, see?

The problem with the Pharisees was that they enforced their extra rules on everyone else, and they thought their meticulous keeping of the law made them righteous. Jesus made it clear it did not.

Warning the following paragraph is a real life example. You may not agree with me, but please don't miss the point of the blog because you don't.

I've written about this before, and I know this is going to irritate people, I don't drink alcohol.


My conviction is that the Bible talks negatively about alcohol in almost every instance, but, as pointed out to me maybe 1 million billion times, there is no direct command not to drink. The Bible only says don't get drunk. Blah, blah, blah, water to wine, blah, blah, blah. Some people have valid arguments for why they drink, but I have chosen to abstain from drinking all together. Am I holier because I don't drink? Nope. Am I better? No way. But it's my choice not to.

This is the point. I am a pharisee about some things, but you are too. And those things matter, but they are not the most important things. It's interesting that the people I'm most persecuted by are Christians who disagree with my personal convictions. Some how they think that because I believe one thing I'm imposing my convictions on them. I'm not. I'm living my life in the way I feel God has called me to live. If that offends you, I'm sorry.

Of course that mentality only works on the, "Grey areas" of the Bible. There are some things we can't disagree on and still be followers of Christ.

Let's stick to the important things of the Bible. We have to be about winning people to Christ, and we have to build each other up. There are enough haters and trolls in this world without us Christians treating each other that way. We're going to disagree, but people shouldn't know us by our disagreements and arguments, they should know us by our love.

If I'm a Pharisee I hope I'm a good one. I don't want to be the guy who misses the messiah because I'm so busy following the extra laws I've created that I haven't payed attention to the actual Scriptures. But I do want to have some tension in my life between living in a manner worthy of Christ and having the freedom salvation allows. I want to be a Pharisee like Nicodemus or Paul the Apostle. You see, not all the Pharisees were bad. If that's the kind of Pharisee I am, I'm cool with that.