Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Pharisee’

How to Respond When Nobody Believes You

In Chrisian Life, Life and Culture on December 18, 2013 at 9:37 am

S2-amy-nuttall-as-housemaid-edith_595Change is the Longest Four-Letter Word

How many times have we been sucked into someone else’s problems with the culture at work, school, or local council meetings?  I can tell you that it happens… A LOT.  I have the nature of asking too many questions.  I get slammed for it sometimes.  To be fair, I get glares, stares, and eyes rolled.  It does not really bother me because if we do not ask and answer honest questions then we cannot ever really get to the truth or effective conclusions.

The traditions that bind us are often good.  However, sometimes they need changing.  Change is the longest “four-letter” word.  The mature do not like change because they have grown accustomed to the routine of their life.  The physical limitations, though unspoken, can cause a need to have systems and habits in place.  However, tell a 20-something that their wi-fi will be down and suddenly it all comes clear of who has habits in different ways.  Telling a child what does and does not truly exist can certainly rock their world too.

The point is that we have a certain order to our life we enjoy.  If that order is adjusted we can unleash holy terror.  None is worse than in religious circles.  Jesus is all about changing lives.  However, that change is often questioned, mocked, or deemed unbelievable.  We often work out of a certain system of culture and relationships.  When someone wants to break through they find it very difficult regardless of how their life is right now.  For example, poor Ethel on Downton Abbey can’t seem to catch a break because of her life choices that she has since shed.  Even Isobel is catching fire over her helping such a person.

Jesus helped a man born blind.  The man faced numerous questions and was even thrown under the bus by his parents.  If he had access to Ice T he might have told the people to not hate the player, but to hate the game.  While that was totally too much gangsta for that day, the man was really saying what the Urban Dictionary has to say on this matter:

Do not fault the successful participant in a flawed system; try instead to discern and rebuke that aspect of its organization which allows or encourages the behavior that has provoked your displeasure.

How to Respond

Simple truth is best.  When the neighbors asked he responded with the simple truth.  When the Pharisees asked he, again, gave a simple answer.  His parents were brought in and then he was questioned again.  He got emotional, but gave a simple answer.  Too often we try to get complicated so that we look more prestigious, affluent, educated, or pious.  Let us just give honest simple answers with regard to the changes God has made in our lives through Jesus.  Realize that not everyone will understand or agree, but that does not eliminate the effect Jesus has on you.

I don’t know.  We shy away from making this statement because of fear.  We are afraid of looking bad.  We cannot handle the shame of ignorance society places on those who answer this way.  However, we see this man getting along just fine and he used it twice.  When the honest answer is “I don’t know”, do not make something up to look good.  Be honest….it really is the best policy.

The next time you experience a great move of God in your life be filled with joy.  At the same time, be ready for the disbelief of friends, neighbors, and possibly even your pastor.  Take heart! Keep it simple. Keep it honest.  Who knows, you too might have another personal encounter with Jesus that will radically alter your life.

Getting Stoned With Jesus

In Chrisian Life on December 13, 2013 at 9:12 am

spare-the-rod-spoil-the-childMany would say that I was spoiled as the adopted and only child of my parents who loved me in word, deed, and gifts.  Maybe I was spoiled, but there were boundaries also.  My parents did not shy away from a good spanking/punishment when I needed it, and I often did!

  • Pulling the pigtails of the girl in front of me (K)
  • Lying to Dad about my behavior in class (1st)
  • Slipping through the prohibited fence (3rd)
  • Getting caught “playing doctor” (3rd)
  • Getting in a fight (5th)
  • Cussing in front of Dad (8th)
  • Wrecking the car (11th)
  • Jumping RR tracks (12th)

Entrapment

The spankings and groundings were nothing compared to what happened with this woman in John 8.  Jesus was on the outs with the Pharisees which was not news.  They were looking for a way to trap Him in order to get rid of Him.  They bring out this woman who was caught in the act of adultery.  The law requires both be stoned, but who really reads all the law anyway?  The point is that the Pharisees wanted to see how Jesus would react to the situation.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  The Law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.

Getting Stoned

She had no excuse.  Her punishment was certain.  Depending on what Jesus said to the Pharisees, she would get stoned with Jesus.  After much prodding, Jesus finally responds with a unique response.  He addressed the real issue of the attitude of the Pharisee.

They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. 

What’s Really Happening

The Pharisees did not care for the woman.  Those who are trying to discredit Jesus will do whatever it takes.  You will quite possibly get caught in the middle as a pawn in their sick game.  Of course, if the woman had not been involved she would not have been caught.  If not her, they would have found someone.  There is always someone making themselves available for such a role unfortunately.  Don’t be that person.

Jesus never said she was innocent.  She had done an awful and illegal thing.  Often we do awful and bad things too.  These choices put us into bad situations.  The charges were brought and Jesus was expected to render some verdict.  He knelt and played in the dirt.  He did not say she was innocent.  You and I are not innocent.  Being pure and being acquitted are different.  She was not without wrongdoing.  The Pharisees were not either.  Jesus challenged them by suggesting that whoever had no sin should throw the first stone.  The accusers walked away and the case was dropped.

Don’t Get Stoned With Jesus

Jesus would love it if everyone played nice together, but we do not.  Some are always looking for a way to run down God and Jesus.  Here are the tactics to be aware of as you go:

  1. Will bring up a non-believer and challenge God to “make it right”.  This is a simple power grab.  They are wanting to have the power of telling God what to do.  Be careful to not fall into this trap and get stoned with Jesus in the process.  Some arguments are not worth having.
  2. Will look for ways to twist the words and actions of Jesus in order to exonerate themselves.  The best response may simply be to stay quiet and play in the dust.  Your best position is closer to Jesus than the accusers.  Notice where the woman stayed during this process.
  3. Will look for opportunities to accuse you and throw Jesus in with you.  The Pharisees were ready to stone anyone who was in throwing distance.  Your decisions are being observed.  Be careful what you say, what you do, and where you go.

Are You a People Person?

In Church, Family, Jesus, Journey on December 28, 2012 at 11:15 am

Multi-Gen

It’s all about the people.

Numbers are cold.  Programs suck energy. Traditions stifle creativity.  People are creations of God while the rest are creations of people.  On which do you think God prefers us to focus?

Looking at the life and times of Jesus we see that we was about people.

His birth intersected with people.  Mary’s life would never be the same.  As a young virgin, she became pregnant and remained a virgin until after the birth.  She would not be the same after an angelic visit and a Holy Spirit visit.  Joseph had an angelic visit also reminding him that the traditions of the people must take a backseat to the desires of God in this moment.  The shepherds and the magi would be affected as well by the birth of God as a human.  Not all people enjoyed this news of the birth of Jesus.  The Bible reports that Herod and all Jerusalem were troubled.  Even as a baby, Jesus was working with and through (literally) people.

Why do we want programs?  Why must we focus on projects?  It’s all about the people.

His youth intersected with people.  We find Jesus sitting with the Pharisees as a teenager.  He is talking and discussing things with them?  Jesus wanted to spend time with another generation.  He engaged them.  He conversed with them.  He did not set up a new temple outreach program.  He did not begin a new temple worship.  He spent time with people.

People.

In the early days of ministry, Jesus walked by a commercial fishing establishment.  He called out to the men.  Look at Mark 1.

16 As He was passing along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen.17 “Follow Me,” Jesus told them, “and I will make you fish for people!” 18 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 19 Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in their boat mending their nets. 20 Immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Him.

“I will make you fish for people.”  What did Jesus mean?

1.  He wants a unified focus on people.  I am not a hater of programs because they can systematically help us reach people.  My problem is that we set up a good program and then simply work to keep up the mechanics and disregard the meaning.

2.  He wants us to come into people’s lives and make a difference.  We all have friends.  We all have family.  So did Jesus.  He left heaven to come to and for you.  Let us make room for some new people in our lives.  They are not projects.  They are just new people who can make a difference in your life and you in theirs.

3.  He wants us to mix it up generationally.  Spend time with people outside your age-group.  Take the time to visit other Bible study classes and groups within the church.  Go to the coffee shop early and hang out with the guys.  Sit with someone 30-50 years different from your age (not family) in church or the bus or at a community gathering.  We gather in our holy huddles and build our walls of misinformation and miscommunication.

4.  He wants you to bring people to God.  People are not projects.  People need Jesus.  Find a common interest and establish a relationship with someone.  Maybe they know Jesus.  Maybe they do not.  Build a bridge and go over it.

Are you a people person?  Jesus was.

 

 

Does It Float?

In behavior, Church, Leadership, Missional, Politics on August 15, 2012 at 9:17 am

I have watched David Letterman for years.  Some of you were Carson fans while others are Leno or Conan viewers.  Though not as much as I used to, I watch Letterman.  As he continues to jump the shark to keep viewers as he ages and races toward irrelevance, one of his latest items on the comedic agenda is “Does It Float?”  During this time an item or two will be brought out and voted as to whether it will float in the tank of water or not.  Paul gets it right some of the time.  Letterman brings out zany items for us all to see whether it will float or not.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do the same with doctrine and tradition?  Jesus deals with this in Matthew 15.

1 Then Pharisees and scribes came from Jerusalem to Jesus and asked,

2 “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they don’t wash their hands when they eat!”
3 He answered them, “And why do you break God‘s commandment because of your tradition?

4 For God said:
Honor your father and your mother; and,
The one who speaks evil of father or mother
must be put to death.
5 But you say, ‘Whoever tells his father or mother, “Whatever benefit you might have received from me is a gift [committed to the temple]”- 6 he does not have to honor his father.’ In this way, you have revoked God’s word because of your tradition.

7 Hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said:

8 These people honor Me with their lips,
but their heart is far from Me.

9 They worship Me in vain,
teaching as doctrines the commands of men.”

In this context, Jesus is referring to the Pharisees who were taking religious order to new heights with the rules and regulations.  Over 650 for the Sabbath Day alone not to mention the other 9 commands!  He makes a bold statement to them in these verses, specifically in verse 9.  He states that they are teaching people to adhere to the rules and ideas of Man as if they were of God.  How often do we do this in our lives and churches?

I remember one night at church, the pastor was teaching the lesson and opened up for questions.  I admit, I was slightly rebellious and the pastor was my Dad.  However, I did begin with legitimacy when I asked “Why?”  I don’t remember what he was even teaching on at this point, but I wanted to know why we should believe or behave in the ways being taught.  A vague answer was given and I responded with another desire for further explanation.  In short, I did not receive a satisfactory answer other than “It’s right because I say it is.”  I am not disrespecting my Dad here but raising a point of concern I believe is rampant in the church today as much as it was in the temple of the 1st Century.  We command people to do certain things because “We say so!”

A child approached her mother one evening and asked why she was cutting the ends of the ham before putting it in the pot.  To the girl this seemed silly because the pot was certainly large enough to hold the entire thing.  Her Mom replied, “I don’t know, go ask your grandmother.  I do because she did.”  The girl gets off the stool and finds grandma in another room.  She quietly sits down next to her and begins to ask about the ham and cutting off the ends.  Her grandmother thought for a minute and replied,  “That’s just the way my Mother taught me to do it.”  After further discussion and investigation it was determined that the reason 4 generations of people were cutting off the ends of the ham was because 100 years ago the pot was too small!  The little girl was confused.  Why cut off the ham when the pot was large enough today?  Her Mom was treating as doctrine a tradition of Man, if you will.

How often we do this in church life today!

Take a look at the things you do and consider why you do them.  Some things don’t matter, like the ham.  However, other things do matter.

Why does a quiet time have to be in the morning?
Why do people have to walk the aisle before getting baptized?
Why are deacon elections popularity contests?
Are elders really of the devil?  That word in Timothy is tricky, right?
Why is music worship but preaching is not?
Why are programs and methods raised to doctrinal levels?

I have witnessed people making such strong claims to these, and other, issues one would think the bodily resurrection of Jesus was being debated.  Much of the things we argue about are preference more than doctrine.  Let us be careful not to treat as doctrine the simple preferences and stylistic choices of man.

How nice it might be if we could just throw so many of these things in a spiritual pool and what does not float is understood to just be preference, secondary, or tertiary to the real heart of the Gospel and the Church.  Let us hold firm to the primary and loosen our grip on the rest.  In this way, I believe our collective blood pressure will drop into a healthy range lengthening our productivity and widening our effectiveness.  Before you drop your spiritual bomb on someone’s day take a minute and consider if it would float.

Deregulation

In Church, Jesus, Leadership on October 11, 2011 at 8:31 am

Who is in charge of the church service?

Some might say the worship leader. Some might say the preacher. Actually, Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. If this is true, then those who are in public positions on Sunday are merely responsible for their portion. If Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, then those same people are not accountable to the preferences of a constantly changing culture. They are responsible to a never-changing God.  Jesus often did things on the Sabbath or in the Synagogue/Temple that just burned the Pharisees.  He was not intentionally trying to disturb the Pharisees, their regulations were so vast and strict that no one could actually worship anymore.  Jesus in Matthew 12 calls for a deregulation concerning the Sabbath.

1 At that time Jesus passed through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick and eat some heads of grain. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!” 3 He said to them, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and those who were with him were hungry 4 how he entered the house of God, and they ate the sacred bread, which is not lawful for him or for those with him to eat, but only for the priests? 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that on Sabbath days the priests in the temple violate the Sabbath and are innocent? 6 But I tell you that something greater than the temple is here! 7 If you had known what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent.  8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Since we worship corporately on Sunday, instead of the Sabbath Saturday, what does this mean for the people in church on Sunday? Here are three brief things we can learn from these verses:

  1.  God (Father, Son, and Spirit) is to be the focus not the people.
  2.  Mercy overrides any natural response.
  3.  Rigidity to certain styles and orders denies the Spirit’s leadership.

Before you enter another church service here are three simple prayers we need to say.

  1.  Help me to focus on you God and nothing else. Clear my mind and cleanse my heart of any selfishness.
  2.  Fill me with mercy, God, so that it flows out of me when things do not meet my expectations from those leading the people.
  3.  Soften me and make me flexible for the next 90 minutes.

May we truly worship the next time we gather together in the name of Jesus!

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