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Freeing the Church From Pharisee Influence

Pharisee Influence

The Pharisees meant well—they truly did. And yet, they struggled against Christ at nearly every step.

And while there were Pharisees, like Nicodemus, who sincerely desired to understand Jesus, he still publicly called them out over their practices and blind spots.

The warning he gave to us was to be on our guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and Saducees. Because:

• Their behavior is an occupational hazard for any child of God

• Like leaven, it only takes a little bit to affect an entire loaf of bread

Here are some areas we need to be on guard against:

The Pharisees separated themselves from disreputable people.
Jesus intentionally sought them out.

For the Pharisees, purity was about separating yourself from impure things like non-kosher food and notorious people. When Jesus’ feet are being washed by the immodest women in Luke 7, Simon suggests that Jesus isn’t really a prophet. If he was, he wouldn’t let this unsavory woman near him.

That’s not how Jesus worked. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” The point was, we’re all sick. But the nice thing about those on the lower rung of the social ladder is that they don’t have to put on airs. They don’t have to keep up appearances.

The Pharisees judged people by the company they kept.
Jesus judged people by the individuals they ignored.

The reputation that Jesus received for being a friend to tax gatherers and sinners was damning. Think about it as the equivalent of being considered a “n****r lover” in  the pre-civil rights south.

It’s a natural progression from the previous point. Sinners were human garbage, and not only were you condoning their lifestyle by befriending them, you were damaging your important reputation.

Jesus judges people based on who they ignored. The poor. The motherless. The widow. The man lying bleeding on the side of the road. The person who couldn’t repay you for your kindness. In Christ’s economy, loving too frugally is infinitely more dangerous than loving too liberally.

Let’s be honest, if the religious people around us aren’t clicking their tongues at some of our scandalous friends, we might be doing Christianity wrong.