The Accidental Pharisee

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

True Confession

"Am I going to be so arrogant to demand more of myself than God does?"
~ Question raised by Brennan Manning

Well, yes.
I hate to admit it, but I did just that: I raised the bar on myself--higher than what God ever set for me--and then said, "Watch me, God. How am I doing?"
And, if I'd been listening, I would have heard God say, "I didn't ask you to do that. Where did you come up with that idea?"
A number of years ago, I was part of a women's Bible study teaching team. It was a delight to be involved with these women: Cheryl and Sandy and Faith and Chris and Barbara. (And yes, I know you weren't teaching, Barbara, but we couldn't have managed without you!) With them I experienced the true meaning of ministry.
But that's another blog.
One year, we taught on Covenant. I know we learned a lot of things, but this is the one thing I remember: The Israelites got it wrong.
God handed down all the laws to Moses. Then Moses told the Israelites, "This is what we've got to do--all of this."
You know what the Israelites said?
"Sure thing. We can do all that." (Beth's paraphrase)
And that's where the Israelites got it wrong.
What they should have said was, "There is no way we can do all this! There is no way we can keep the Law! Is there another option?"
They should have thrown themselves on God's mercy.
And you know what God would have said?
He would have said, "As a matter of fact, I do have another way. It's called grace. It's going to appear wrapped up in a little baby born of a virgin many years from now. Do you believe that?"
There's a reason for Law--but it's not how we come into relationship with God. Do's and don'ts never equal relationship. They equal guilt.
Just Thinking Out Loud: Being a Pharisee--accidental or intentional--is rooted in arrogance. Grace is rooted in humility. Thre's a choice there. I can make my life all about me. Or I can make my life all about God--and his grace.

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