But woe to you Pharisees!
I remember I used to read the gospels and remark at how upset Jesus generally was towards the “religious” of his day. According to him, they were those who shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces, who clean the outside of the cup but whose insides are filthy, who forgot the meaning of the law, etc…
The novelty of thinking that Jesus’ statements were for someone else suddenly wore off a few days ago when I realized that… I am on the road to becoming a “religious leader”.
When I said yes to serving Jesus full-time, I suddenly place myself in the same category as the Pharisees because I am wanting to becoming a shepherd of God’s people. And now that I am reading through the gospels again, that’s a very scary thought.
It’s scary because if there’s one thing you learn about Pharisees from the gospels, you never ever ever want to be like them. Never. They are the worst of the people Jesus encounters because they bore the name of a leader of God’s people, but did anything but that. Jesus came and made up for their failings as the good shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep.
So I definitely do not want to be like them. But I also need to realize that it was the decisions they made that made them become what they were is very important to me now..
Now more than ever, religious appearances before God and before others matter not. A person going into ministry who is still worried about outward appearances and not a hundred times more concerned about personal integrity and a real discipleship relationship with Jesus is in grave danger of living a Pharisaical lifestyle. And if am not consistently a person “poor in spirit” about my own weaknesses and conditions, I can only see 5 to 10 years down the line how I would have become the butt of the gospel stories, a Pharisee myself.
This season, God is probing hard on the inside of my heart and mind to root out any hint of religiousness in me until Christ is formed in me. I am thankful and submit to that work. I do not refuse Him, lest I be shamed on the day of judgment for having wasted this calling to ministry.