A good start can still lead to a crappy finish
We all know parents who, with good intentions, use cloth diapers in order to save money or save the environment. They approach diapers with a kind of “this is the way God intended it” verve that is noble and zealous. They start with good intentions but end up in a situation that is…well…crappy.
The Pharisees Started with Good Intentions
Somewhere in the distant past, a group of men got together with the good intention of loving God and loving His Word. They decided to protect the integrity of their faith and live set apart for that purpose. That’s certainly not a bad thing, right? They decided to call themselves “Pharisees” – which means “separated” or “distinct from.”
We know the Pharisees as the bad guys of the Bible. Before we bash the Pharisees, let’s make sure we understand how easy it is to drift from living as a God-focused follower to living as a fanatical Pharisee.
- They started with a passion to protect the Word of God.
- They knew sin was a snare, so they made special rules to help them stay out of trouble.
- They stopped hanging out with their old friends in order to keep those rules.
- They began to make friends with people who acted just like them.
- They started expecting everyone to follow their made-up rules.
- They thought as long as people followed their rules, everyone was OK with God.
Don’t Forget Jesus
The problem is the Pharisees drifted away from the heart of God. Instead of separating from their sin, the Pharisees separated from the people they were called to love and serve. The drift begins when we forget what it was like to first see Jesus. John 9:7 says a blind man “came home seeing.” Let that sink in. A man, born blind, was miraculously given his sight by Jesus.
Imagine what that must have been like for this man. The sensory overload must have been overwhelming. As he walked, he saw for the first time in living color a world brand new. The light must have been almost too much to bear. This is a tree. This is a dog. This is the sky, and that is the color blue. That is a cloud. Every step brought a new experience; every conversation brought an unfamiliar face. Every word now had visual context. Every experience now had a visual connection. “I can see!”
We cannot forget what it was like to first meet Jesus. When we forget, we start to value process over people, traditions over the Word, education over transformation, outward appearances over inward change, and rules over relationships.
Go After the Lost
Yes, we want to live as a separated people. We want our lives to be distinctly different, but let’s not forget that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Those are the people we need to see and serve. As our love of God and His Word grow, our love of people should grow as well. If our love of people doesn’t grow in step with our love of the Word, we can be sure we are not becoming disciples. We are becoming Pharisees.