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Thursday, February 4, 2010

I Would Have Made a Good Pharisee

For some reason, my favorite Bible characters have been on my mind as of late. They include Josiah and Peter and Esther to name just a few. I've found myself perusing the stories of these characters and those like them. As I've been doing that, I've felt this question tingle at the edges of my mind. I've kind of wanted to keep it at the edges, but as it sometimes happens, God wanted me to look at it. What is the question you ask?

Great characters of the faith fill the pages of the Bible, which one are you most like?

Sigh. I'm not brave like Esther. I don't know that my heart is as sensitive to God's Word as Josiah's. Peter jumped into the water and swam to shore even after he had failed Jesus. I would have cowered in the boat.

Yes, but who are you most like?

It took awhile, but my answer came with humbling conviction. The Pharisees. Sigh. I don't want to be like them.

In Jesus' day there were several prominent groups. One was the Sadducees. (I differentiated them from the other groups by their name and belief. They didn't believe in heaven so that made them "Sad you see." I came up with that in high school, so cut me some slack.) Then there were the Pharisees. (They wanted everything "Fair you see.") They were the rule keepers.

Honestly, I think that initially the Pharisees started out okay. They didn't want to break any of God's commandments. They were very careful about it. They decided to define all the possible ways of breaking a commandment. But, then they added to the law. In essence, they put up a zillion fences, things to do and not do, so that you wouldn't come close to breaking the law.

The problem... In the frenzy of building those fences, they lost sight of God and his people.

I like rules more than I want to admit. I'd rather be carefree and easy going. They make me feel safe. They help me know what to expect and what not to expect. They give me boundaries at times when life feels out of control.

But just like the Pharisees, I lose sight of God. Yes, I may have my quiet time. I may be able to check any number of spiritual things off the list. But if my quiet time was just about the list, did I really meet with God?

Just like the Pharisees, I lose sight of God's people. Sometimes in relationships I am more concerned about being right or more concerned about what is fair than I am about the person. Take, for instance, my job at BN. I do enjoy it. I work hard. However, my dandruff gets up if I think I'm doing more work than so and so. I want it all to be fair. Sometimes I get so focused on a task, I lose sight of the people around me.

But there is hope. Saul was a Pharisee. He went so far as to call himself a Pharisee of Pharisees! He even held the others' cloaks as they stoned Stephen, a leader in the early church. He sincerely believed it was the right thing. He was very good at following rules. He expected everyone else to follow them too. Until one day, he was walking a long and Jesus appeared to him. He was blinded for several days. Then Jesus sent someone to heal Saul's eyes. From then on, Saul became Paul and became a leader in the early church. Talk about a 180!

Was Paul still a rule guy? I think that he probably was. However, he was also someone who had completely experienced grace. This allowed him to give grace to others even when they didn't follow the rules.

Today, I was talking about a situation with someone who knows my tendency to gravitate to rules, to put my expectations on people. She said, "Watch your rules." She was right to say it, but it brought tears to my eyes. As much as rules make me feel safe, I would rather be safe in God's love and be able to love people.

Yes, I would have made a good Pharisee. But as God shows us through Paul, God is more than capable to knock down some fences to bring hope to a heart.

What about you?

Would you have made a good Pharisee?

Does following the rules ever get in your way of loving God or His people?

Watch your rules . . . .

God's Work In Progress,

This year I'm focusing on hope. I'd love for you to visit my personal blog:

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Blogger Jill said...

Good insight, Amy.

February 4, 2010 at 9:03 PM  

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It is good to hear from you... thank you so very much for leaving a note on the table. That makes us smile!

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