I, Pharisee

The nights are getting longer. The wind is getting colder. The schoolwork's getting harder. Free time is getting shorter . . . . and blog posts are becoming less. It's like I have one finger stuck in every plate of food out there, and it's crazy!

Tonight, though, when I finally decided to sit down and write a new blog post instead of work on my homework, it took a while to decide one what to write. For a while I just sat here, leaning back in my chair, wrapped in a blanket, and thinking over any ideas that have been repeating themselves in my life lately. Is there something prominent in my day-to-day life that I've been struggling? If so, how am I supposed to put it into words?

I began to drift off into thinking over everything I had to do, every assignment, every task. That led me to thinking about my different classes- the upcoming tests, the dreaded units in the near future, the stress of the fast-paced teaching . . . .

Then I thought with a sickening feeling, the kids I knew who had missed a bunch of school. Even those kids who I knew weren't getting the material as quickly as would be preferred . . . so I thought about them for awhile. The more I thought about them, the more I wondered about them. A few of them, I automatically thought as people who probably didn't care about school. Right away, in my mind, I pictured some other students in my school.

Then my mind clouded with stories- mainly rumours that I've heard travelling around the school about some of those kids. Even some warnings from my parents entered my head.

I imagined what their home life was like. Where did they go after school, anyways? Suddenly, I realized that I had no clue. In fact, do I ever see them outside of school? The only way I hear about what they're up to is from gossiping lips, or principle announcements.

I thought back to all those shocking stories, most of which had never been confirmed nor denied, but simply hung over the person's head like a neon sign saying, "Did you hear what this teen did?!"

At once I was engrossed in these thoughts. How could they do such a thing? What if I was ever like that? I was horrified by the thought that some people could be so "good" in school, but have a completely different lifestyle the moment they left the school grounds. It scared me. I began to think badly of them.

I thought they had changed. I thought they were actually becoming closer to God. By the looks of things, it was all a lie. Why would I want to be with people like that? People always say it's easier for someone to pull you down than it is for you to pull that someone up. I will have nothing to do with them- they're probably a bad influence.

For a while I sat, my eyes glazed over, staring into space. My mind was awhirl with conclusions about those individuals, and my heart was set on staying away from them, and though I didn't recognize it, I was passing judgment on them.

Through random brain connections, I began to ponder over my recent Student Council Leadership Retreat to Camp Caroline. I thought of the great speaker, the lessons I learned, the amazing worship, and sweet fellowship with great friends. I thought of church this morning, and realized that the sermon was similar to what the speaker at the retreat had talked about. I thought back to just two hours ago- youth group. And with growing excitement, found a huge connection. Everything that I had been listening to, just in the past four days, had been totally centered on love! Coincidence? Nah... there are no coincidences.

Okay. So, about love. I was about to prepare for this blog post with renewed vigour, but was stopped short by a glance at my Facebook. I saw a name. It triggered my thoughts from before. I felt contempt and distrust. I was growing annoyed with reading all these things I most certainly didn't agree with. I was so disgusted with these things that were being posted, that I moved to 'block' them from my newsfeed. I've done it before, and it helped alot. Why feed my mind with junk that shouldn't even be mentioned in the first place?

Back to writing about love. Hmm... why did I suddenly feel very hypocritical? I thought I was following what the bible said:

Ephesians 5:11~
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness
but rather, expose them.

Okay, done. In fact, why don't I just 'unfriend' that person altogether? It's not like they are really trying to be a Godly person, it's not like they are that nice to me anyways . . . . what's the point? They probably wouldn't even notice.

Plus, I hear lots of adults cautioning against following people like that. They're dangerous! Who knows what kinds of things they're doing in secret? Everyone knows they're a bad kid. Might as well stick to people who will encourage me in my faith, not influence me to turn away.

I mean, that's what Jesus would do, isn't it? Look at all the times in the bible that He left those who were evil sinners! It says right there in... chapter... uhhh... does it even say that anywhere? Well, I remember that one story- that cheat Zaccheus. Oh wait, never mind... He hung out at Zach's house for supper . . . . Well that was probably because He felt sorry for the little man. It's not like He actually wanted to be friends with such a liar. Hah! Here! Levi the tax collector. He was no doubt a lying, deceiving, stealing criminal. Surely, Jesus wouldn't have anything to do with his fruitless deeds of darkness . . . oh. Never mind, again. What is this?

Mark 2:13-17 ~
13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Ooooookay, then. So, Jesus, this guy that I'm trying to be like, is a "Friend of Sinners?" What is up with that? Is there any place where He actually tells off someone who is doing wrong? There's gotta be! Oh. Here it is. Hmmm....

Matthew 23:25-28~
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Shoot. That's kinda starting to sound like me. I thought I was the one doing the right thing, having nothing to do with those 'sinful' people by never going near them. But here, it looks like Jesus wasn't pressured to sin, oh no. He wasn't pulled down, He pulled those people up. He was the doctor to those who were sick. And He helped them without having a single thing to do with their fruitless deeds of darkness. He exposed their sin by showing them how to live righteously! Boy, did I ever have it mixed up!

It seems that with so much evil in this fallen, corrupt world, "good" people are becoming fewer and farther between. Along with that, since there is so many dangerous people out there, we are being taught to stay inside, stick with our Christian buddies, and not talk to those who do such detestable things. Then, we assume that we are living a 'righteous and pure life.' We think we are living like Jesus. But do we forget how He lived? His life was perfectly righteous and pure, and He did exactly the opposite of what we're doing!

He went out of His way to hang out with those people. He spent time with them, talked with them, laughed with them, healed them. Unfortunately, that legacy isn't living on very much anymore. We jumbled up that verse. Instead of, "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness," we changed it to, "Have nothing to do with those people who commit fruitless deeds of darkness." We can help them out of the pit their in without having anything to do with the sin itself!

The more we stay away from those people, the less and less like Jesus we become. We become pharisees. On the outside, we stay away from impurity and sin. On the inside, we judge those we deem worse than us, we feel proud, we feel contempt toward anyone not like us. The weird thing is, Jesus was furious with the Pharisees. They made no attempt to save His lost sheep, they simply paraded around proudly, thinking they were doing the Will of God. Uh-uh.

Our society has it backwards. We weren't meant to ignore the lost- we are commanded to love them! Why have we lost sight of that? What happened to giving a cup of cold water in the Lord's name? Where in the Bible did He tell us to stay in our homes, go to church, stay away from those who are hurting, ignore those who are dying, and block those who need Him?

Didn't we all need Him? And aren't we the ones who profess that no sin is greater than another? So what are we, sinners, doing condemning our fellow sinners? The only difference between them and us, is we have Jesus!

There's supposed to be another difference . . . we should be following Jesus. From the looks of things right now, staying safe and oblivious is keeping us occupied rather than being a loving servant like Jesus told us to be.

If people will know we are Christians by our love... then the Christian population in North America must be labeled an 'endangered religion' by this point.

Time to bring the real Jesus back.