Confronting The Inner Pharisee…


Devotional Thought fo the Day:

13 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the kingdom of heaven* before human beings. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves. NABRE Matt 23:13-15

I have loved thy beauty, and the place of the habitation of the glory of my Lord, thy builder and possessor. Let my wayfaring sigh after thee, and I say to Him that made thee, let Him take possession of me also in thee, seeing He hath made me likewise. I have gone astray like a lost sheep: yet upon the shoulders of my Shepherd, thy builder, hope I to be brought back to thee. (1) 

As I come to Matthew 23 in my devotions, I feel the necessity to guard my heart.  It is all too easy as Jesus begins to challenge Pharisees and Sadducees to begin to name their modern counterparts.

I know them, as they sit on either end of the spectrum, trying to create a system out of the covenant relationship God calls us into being , as His children, His beloved.   As they create rules and rubrics, best practices and by-laws, assuring others that doing so is faithful and proper, missional and confessional.

I see them as either throwing out the baby with the baptismal water or drowning the baby in it, oblivious to the baby, for the sake of the holy water.

And this is exactly why I have to guard my heart, for Jesus words aren’t just calling them to repentance, but they are calling me to repentance.  For I can lock the door on these Pharisees and Sadducees as quickly as they do for those I find myself akin to, those who are broken, lost and trying desperately to hear His voice of hope. What is worse, my cynical and sarcastic response to the Pharisee or Sadducee sets a horrid example for those I am leading, those who I am discipling.  An example which doesn’t shepherd them into the presence of Christ who would heal them, but away from Him, into the desert where they will trust no one, eventually including me.

So where is my hope, how can I allow my inner Pharisee to be called to repentance, and see God deal with those who would drive people to a place outside the church?

I think Augustine in his simple brilliance showed me an answer this morning.

Focus on the presence of God!  Let him carry you broken back tot he Father.  We have to abandon yourself into His care, His guidance, join Him on the cross, and let Him heal us, including killing off our inner pharisee, or at preferably, purifying that devoted pharisee in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  We need to let the Father remind us that we are in the presence of God, in His dwelling place, and call our mind back from the pigpens where our brothers were living large.

There is hope for Pharisees, and Sadduccees and so many others…

In the cross, in being carried back, physically or spiritually, into the presence of God’s glory, God’s mercy, God’s love.

And that is where we belong….   AMEN!

(1)  Augustine, S., Bishop of Hippo. (1996). The Confessions of St. Augustine. (E. B. Pusey, Trans.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

 

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on August 18, 2016, in Devotions and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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