Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Throwing Out Pharisees

How much do you like failure? I can almost hear your answer: “Gosh, Ralph, I’ve been waiting for you to ask! I love failure!” Okay, but where do you experience it most?

When we tell Christians (or anyone, for that matter) how they should behave according to a standard, even a good one, we’ve set them up for failure. We might as well tell them to obey the Law as a means of enjoying the Christian life. Won’t that be fun? No, that’s crazy! They don’t go together.

Life by standards or rules, especially relationships and particularly married life, makes vigilant Pharisees out of us. It can’t help it. Not only must I scrutinize my every move, but I will also become hawkish about my wife. . .and everyone else. That does not make for a trusting and loving relationship. Where there should be a natural flow for us, a moving together, there’s examination, evaluation and distance.

Worse, we will miss the awe and thrill that comes from discovering that Jesus is actually in us, and that He is perfect for us and for our wife or husband, and for every relationship. Usually, we won’t be particularly thrilled with God—not God in us, not really—and He loves to do in us what He is like, making us aware of how fit and compatible we are with Him.

If we are going to live by the Holy Spirit (and, it seems to me, that is the way for a new creation), then we’ll need to think of love more as a person—Jesus—and less as a behavior. Otherwise, love easily becomes an imitation, a copycat, rather than the genuine article—the real deal—alive in us.

You don’t want the look of love for people, the skinny façade of the Pharisee. It’s a fake, and you’re not set up for that. It won’t work for you. It’s Jesus you want, and the way that He is with you and the way that He is with others. For all who receive Jesus, you’ve done exactly that—He is the gift, the inside gift. Think of the hope you have—He is Jesus.

(This is a transcript of yesterday's video, “Throwing Out Pharisees.” It's for those who might rather read than watch.)

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