Monday, November 29, 2010


Back in biblical days there were religious/political leaders with a good deal of notoriety: The Pharisees. That word is associated with negative connotation for good cause, in my opinion. Here was a group of people well-versed in things religious who had a lot of knowledge and strong political influence. Like some who are dealt power and a position of leadership, they used their knowledge to belittle other people. I could suppose this might have been due to their need for religious & spiritual validation (which some people unhealthily seek by belittling or being condescending towards other people), but their motives and hearts are unknown.

What is known is that these men were constantly throwing scripture at people, constantly blasting the law at all times, and attempting to make men feel small or inadequate by comparing them to their own personal standards. The Pharisees thought they had figured it out best, and only those who measured up to their standards were going to make the religious cut.

Funny thing is that the very Son of God came along and basically gave a sentence of damnation to those who acted or spoke like the Pharisees. Here they were trying their best to make everyone feel guilty (we use the Christianese word "convicted" these days) by purporting their own standards and way of living, then someone shows up and smacks the proverbial caviar off their trays. Well we all know wounded pride is the mother of offense and this all led way to a murderous conclusion, but what else can be learned by all this?

I would like to think that we are given a prime example of how to live and how to lead. There was a love that has transcended through centuries that was shown, a love which trumped law, legalism, and religion. Jesus' own parables usually gave people a sense of indignation about those wronged in the stories he told, but those people who heard said stores searched their own hearts to see if they possessed qualities like the ones they abhorred hearing so much. His stories were devoid of finger pointing but were, instead, an open-handed approach where He unfolded his hands, offered a story, and let the lessons fall where they may as they naturally permeated the hearts of those present. This just illustrates He understood something basic about human nature: we all have an intrinsic desire to be better people.

When someone hears something that touches a nerve (because it touches on a sensitive area that is a weak place in our lives), their senses all come alive and spring to action. Our first reaction might be to get defensive which is why Jesus' approach was such a good one. He brought light to the dark places without pointing anyone out. He obviously knew that people respond best when left to their own devices, when information is shared with them as opposed to it being shoved down their throats or used as a divisive tool to separate those who thought they were more religious from those who did not appear to be (at least according to Pharisee standards).

In my own learning and growing as a person of faith I pray daily that the things which are revealed to me be passed on through my own life. I pray I not use what I learn or know to feel or act better than anyone else, but that I might shed light or clarity on a place previously cloudy or obscured even if not intended. In the same vain, I pray for people in my life that also equip and strengthen me not by chastisement, but by a daily life lived well and purposeful. If I could have nothing more than that in this world, I would continue to be a truly thankful and content man.

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