There’s a church near where I live which likes to be in charge of everything. In any inter-faith council or area ministerial association, someone needs to be in charge. People from one particular church like to be that person.
The sense I get is that if something is taking place, they want to arbiters of it; they want to broker it. So they occasionally throw their weight and their money around in order to stay at the center of things.
I’m reminded of a movie I watched — and if you know the title, please leave a comment — where a television executive has discovered religion and inquires how he might secure exclusive broadcast rights for the second coming of Christ. I suppose the Bible does say — twice actually, in Luke 21 and Revelation 1 — that every eye will see him. Is that accomplished through the supernatural nature of his return or does some human technology play a part?
I feel that way when I encounter some (but not all) of the people from this church. When the second coming happens, at least in our part of the world, they want to be in charge of it.
Two summers ago I heard some teaching that attempted to cast the Pharisees in a positive light. The idea was that they were keeping tabs on Jesus because if he was the Messiah; if he was truly the promised one; they needed to be the first to know. And many of the four signs were starting to line up. The healing of a man born blind. The healing of a leper. The demon deliverance of a man who was mute. The raising of the dead of a man who had been buried more than three days.
Again the language is the same. They wanted to be the arbiters of the Messiah’s identity. They wanted to broker the ushering in of a new era in Judaism. Their intentions may have been honorable, but despite a lifetime of study, they missed out when it came to Jesus. Him? Joseph and Mary’s son? We don’t think so.
Then they took it to a whole different level when they tried to shut his ministry down completely. Why? Because they were caught in his cross-hairs. He identified their religious spirit. He noted that they often acted for personal gain. To this day, to call someone a Pharisee, is to use the term pejoratively.
So why use the term at all today?
Because the Pharisaical spirit is alive and well in our culture, which brings us full circle to where I started. Some people feel the need to be in charge; to be in control; and they are very swift to dismiss anyone who doesn’t fit their picture of how things should look; how structures and systems should operate.
The verse in Mark [last link] above reminded me of a line from this Keith Green song. Not on topic at all, but hey…