There are some modern groups in which it is still politically correct to hate. For instance:
In Christian culture there is one biblical group in particular that gets our self-righteous blood boiling more than any other:
They were the most religious, prestigious and openly critical Jewish sect towards Christ’s brief public ministry. They wielded their knowledge of the Law like a battle-axe. They held people captive and enslaved under the crushing weight of the meticulous ceremonial law. They would hold immaculate banquets to honor their own religious devotion before Israel’s upper crust, while locking out the broken, poor and unclean from their sight.
Ancient Jewish religious culture was married to the political establishment. Pharisees weren’t just the religious elite. They were the social elite. Political elite. Educational elite.
Jesus definitely had hard words for this particular religious opponent: They were called bleached tombs housing rotting corpses on one occasion (Matthew 23:27); on another, he accused their mothers of shagging the devil (John 8:44).
Everyone ELSE is a Pharisee
Some modern Christian groups commonly get compared to those ancient hypocrites: The red faced Fundamentalist who shuns sex, drugs and rock & roll. The Theological nitpicks and watchdogs, who commonly accuse other Christian groups of heresy. Any pastor who may say any word of exhortation on the matter of homosexuality, abortion, or anything deemed a political issue.
We love to hate on the Pharisees. And we love to ascribe that title to every other group but the one we happen to identify with. It may sound like this:
“Sure, grace is for tax collectors, prostitutes, gang bangers, drug addicts, etc….But don’t get me started on that old fart deacon who gave my wife an ugly look when she raised her hands during worship…I can’t stand that guy!”
Do we really think we’re gonna reach that crazy dude with the megaphone, who is thumping nothing but the law to deaf masses, by shouting “SHUT UP!” out our window as we screech by in our car?
Modern pharisees need grace as much as the anguished teenager considering an abortion.
I know this because they are human. And we all happen to be in the same sinking ship by nature (Romans 3:23).
Hugs Not Drugs….Or Hate
I also know this: The apostle formerly known as Saul was a Pharisee (Acts 23:6). And a dang good one. Before Christ knocked him off his donkey, Paul was notorious for his ability to hunt down men and women of “The Way” and see to it they were murdered for their faith (Acts 7:54-60). The blood of the saints was all over his hands, and he was quite proud of it (Acts 22:4)
The next modern-day apostle Paul may, at the moment, be murdering Christians in Sudan.
Maybe more shocking to you:
The next modern-day apostle Paul may, at the moment, be the church deacon you’re cursing underneath your breath.
If we have any reservations over those statements it is because we don’t believe in invincible grace. One thing is for sure: The only force that changes the heart of a murderous or judgmental Pharisee, is the grace of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Next time you’re shocked by their critical spirit and blind religious hubris: stop, take some deep breaths, smile and say something like:
“Is there anything I can pray for you about?”
“You wanna go for coffee some time?”
“Tell me your story.”
or even, God willing:
“Can I give you a hug?”
If God’s kindness brought Pharisees like us to repentance (Romans 2:4), you never know what similar grace will do to the hearts of those bound in legalism now.
Stop the hate. Try a hug instead.
What are some ways you could express greater grace towards the “Pharisees” in your circle?