The effect of modern-day Pharisees

We all know people who are "holier than thou."  They tend to live perfect lives, even if a trifle legalistic. We know we ought to like them, but somehow they leave us feeling condemned and unworthy. 

Holier than thou
I don't think Jesus was like this. If anyone was holy, Jesus was, but sinners loved to be around him. Luke 15:1 says this:

Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach.  This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!

According to David Kinnamen's book, Unchristian, most young people outside the church perceive Christians as judgemental (87%), hypocritical (85%) and anti-gay (91%). And the trouble is, many of us deserve that Pharisaical reputation. We are know more for what we are against than what we are for, what we disapprove of rather than what we endorse.

I doubt Jesus was ever perceived that way. He was more comfortable with sinners than with the religious establishment of his day. He didn't flinch when a prostitute washed his feet with her tears. He didn't hesitate to touch unclean lepers. Kids loved him (they are often great judges of character). He had compassion on people and loved them, and they instinctively knew it. 

Why? Because Jesus was not religious. He accepted rather than condemned, believed the best rather than the worst, loved rather than disapproved. 

4 thoughts on “The effect of modern-day Pharisees”

  1. This was the sermon topic in our legacy church yesterday and the pastor quoted from UnChristian, as well. My wife and I have talked about this too how we often treat homosexuality in particular as some kind of super sin. It’s “just” another sin, like lying, viewing pornography, divorce, murder, whatever. Sin is what we all have in common.

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  2. Its just sad that people have to pick out certain sins that are worse than others. Some may have more impact on other people than others do but to God they are all the same. Many sins are listed as “an abomination”…from lying to homosexuality but God still loves us anyway. We also have to realize that many of these “holier than thou” attitudes really hide a hardened heart that has felt condemnation and rejection and has hardened itsself against others. Sitting in judgement to avoid feeling the judgement of others. Speaking words of hate because they do not know how to speak and maybe have not experienced words of love and affirmation. Thankfully it will all come to an end eventually when Jesus returns and shows us all what its really all about!!

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  3. JC, you are right when you say that some may react in a judgmental way out of hurt etc. They need a radical encounter with the grace of Jesus, and then they will be set free. The problem is that their effect on others is the same, no matter what the source of the problem.
    Dan, I agree with you. Gossip and pride would be two examples that we tend to gloss over in the church. We need his grace and mercy too.

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