Confessions of a Grace Pharisee

The amount of content produced on this little blog of mine has shrunk considerably.  Actually, it would be more accurate to say content published on this little blog has shrunk.

It’s not been for a lack of ideas or inspiration.  As a matter of fact – there might be more ideas and inspiration than ever.   It’s not been about time.  We have plenty of time for what we want plenty of time for.  The truth is this: I’ve not felt good about what I’ve wanted to write.

I’ve had so many thoughts on what is right AND wrong in the worlds of leadership, church, culture and 100 other things.  Yet, something has kept me from sharing these thoughts – through this platform anyway.  I believe that ‘thing’ is the good grace and mercy of Jesus.  Here’s the reason why: (I think)

My motives.

Recently the Bible has once again proved to be a magnificent and horrifying mirror into my soul.  The scripture has a way of sifting through the malaise, fog and veneer to mercifully reveal what actually lurks in our hearts. What has been lurking in my heart is carefully camouflaged self-righteousness.

Not the kind that is judgmental towards struggling sinners.
Not the kind that feels it’s better than the poor.
Not the kind that is shiny and acts like it has it all together.

Oh, I love the adulterers, drug addicted and shame filled outcasts.  I want my church full of them.  I want your church full of them.  I’m nothing like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11 who prayed so arrogantly, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.”

Except that I am.  Herein lies the problem:  I thank God that I’m not like the stuffy, judgmental and legalistic Pharisee.

Which makes me a Grace Pharisee.

Grace Pharisees have no patience for people who have no patience for people I have patience for.  Yeah, that’s a mouth full, but ponder it for a moment.

Grace Pharisees blog, tweet and constantly pontificate about how all the churches and pastors who aren’t __________ (fill in the blank with your passionate thoughts here) are getting it wrong.  Especially the mega-churches and mega-pastors.

Grace Pharisees think, “If we just didn’t have so many ‘churchy’ men and women we could really reach the people Jesus loves!”  Forgetting that Jesus loved Nicodemus and that the Father came out to get the older prodigal son in Luke 15 as well.  Oh yeah, Paul the grace guy was once a stuffy, self-righteous Pharisee.

Grace Pharisees slowly and unwittingly experience a heart shift. Our hearts once humbled and broken by the beauty of grace and mercy become proud of that same grace and mercy.

Hebrews 3:13 describes sin of the heart as being ‘deceitful’.  This means our sinful hearts can con our sinful hearts into believing they’re not as sinful as they really are.

Self-righteousness comes in many forms of camouflage.  May those of us who love grace, mercy and the ways of Jesus continue to pray:

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!


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