I think I would have rather had a tooth pulled than write this post. In fact, I did everything possible to avoid writing this all week, including reorganizing my entire sock drawer (which, though very important, was far from pressing). I did this primarily because I did not want to relive Sunday's sermon. I’ve heard teachings and lectures on the Seven Woes of the Pharisees before, and honestly I was expecting more of the same going into the service. But Nate’s message was not more of the same. It was personal. It wasn’t about the leaders of Jesus’ day. It was about me.
Because I am a Pharisee.
I am guilty of every charge Jesus brought against the religious elite of his time. I am selfish, blind, arrogant and proud. I am full of all manner of lust, greed, slander and envy. And this is not hyperbole, friends. I see this play out in the decisions I make each and every day: decisions to gossip about someone to be part of the crowd; decisions to be showy when being discreet would do the job; decisions to ignore God altogether because why bother when I’ve got me?
I am a Pharisee.
And this is why I wanted no part of reliving Sunday’s sermon. Because I get it. I'm a Pharisee. I'm horrible and selfish and want all the glory for myself. I'm a Pharisee, ok? What do you want from me? I know I'm a sinner and guilty on all accounts. I live with it every day. I don't want to sin, yet I repeatedly choose to do so. And there are days where I have thought that I am never going to change, that I should just give up altogether because what’s the point?
The Judge has spoken. The gavel has dropped. The ruling is clear: “Guilty.”
What do I do now? How do I respond to that, other than “yep?”
It took me until midweek to realize my mistake. While all this is true, it is only half the story.
The beauty of the Gospel is there is always more grace. Just like the prodigal, we have a Father that is forever waiting at the gates for us, ready to run out to meet the poor, disheveled soul who thought life would be better if he did things on his own. I cannot tell you how many times I have been that poor, disheveled soul. It seems like a billion, billion times. And every time I come crawling back to God, embarrassed to even show my face to the Father I so quickly deserted, He does what he has done so many times over: He embraces me. He takes me back. I am unworthy to receive Him, but He does not count my sin against me. That penalty has been paid.
All because of Jesus.
This is the Gospel we claim as ours. Even in our sin, we can confidently approach God because we come as sons and daughters. Most of the time, we’re too distracted by our sin to remember this. That’s exactly what the enemy wants. As long as the focus is your sin, you are of no threat to him. But instead of spending all my time focusing on my sin, I’m learning to spend all my time focusing on Jesus. Sin is my problem, but Jesus made it his problem by dying in my place. And grace covers a multitude of sin.
I am a Pharisee. But by the grace of God, that is not all that I am.
Blog entry by: Dominick Baruffi