Yep, That Sounds Like Me
My name is Becky, and I’m a Pharisee.
They say admitting your problem is the first step to recovery, right? So I admit it. I’m a Pharisee.
I credit my pastor with bringing me to this confession. In his sermon Sunday, he suggested we all might have a little Pharisee in us. I had to admit, I have more than a little.
Pharisees were a group of religious leaders in Jesus’ day who were known for their legalistic adherence to Jewish law. As my pastor said, “The Pharisees focused on externals. Pleasing God meant following a list of do’s and don’ts.”
Yeah, that sounds like me.
He went on to say, “The Pharisees viewed themselves as the standard of spirituality. They were spiritually proud.”
The more Pastor talked, the more I heard myself in his words.
I was very “Pharisee” when it came to my reaction to the death of Whitney Houston. I heard people refer to her as a follower of Jesus and I thought, “Really? A drug abuser?”
I did catch myself—“Yes, Becky, Jesus followers can make mistakes and fall victim to addictions.”
But that didn’t stop my self-righteous, legalistic, internal tirade. As images and interviews of Ms. Houston flooded the television I’d think, “Did you see that dress? Did you hear the words of that song? How can she be a Christian and use that language?”
Growing up, I learned to define Christianity as a list of do’s and don’ts. I understood that my relationship with God was based on my faith in Jesus, but from there I added things like--
- “Good Christians don’t go to movies.”
- “Good Christians don’t play cards.”
- “Good Christians don’t dance.”
- “Good Christians don’t swear.”
And the list could go on and on. And so, my friends, that makes me a Pharisee.
But I want to change. I want to stop expecting people to live up to my vain standards. Stop expecting Christians to dress a certain way, talk a certain way, live a certain way. I want to invite the possibility that people like Whitney Houston may know more about faith and the grace of God than I ever will.