We see broken people becoming whole, through the love of Christ.To build a community in which to belong, grow and serve. To love our neighbours by helping them overcome spiritual and physical needs. To contribute to Spirit-filled transformation in the city of Guelph.
I want you to imagine a good person. Imagine a person who is always doing good things. Imagine that this person loves God. They go to worship every week. They pray several times a day. They read scripture, memorizing long passages of it. They give 10% of all they have to God. They are very careful not to say anything wrong or offensive. They watch their words and their behaviour closely, ensuring they do not do or say anything that might be offensive to God. They follow all the rules very closely. In fact, they not only follow the rules, they make sure they don’t even come close to the edge of the rules!
What do you think of this person? What do you think God thinks of this person? Do you admire this person?
As you hold in your mind the image of this very good person, very devout, God-loving person, who is faithful in all they do, I want you to realize that in Jesus’ day this person is a Pharisee! Why do I say that? Because I want us to understand that the Pharisees in Jesus’ day were the religiously serious group. They were devout. They read scripture all the time, memorizing long passages of it. They were good people. They followed all the rules. They loved God. They prayed regularly and frequently. They never did anything to break God’s laws, and that includes all those hundreds of laws in the Old Testament that make our eyes glaze over today. The Pharisees were the godly, good party. They loved God deeply and did everything in their power to be righteous, to be on good terms with God.
Yet today we think of the Pharisees as the bad guys! In the Gospels, the Pharisees are often put forward as the enemies of Jesus. Many of them were hostile to Jesus, but a few, at least, did come to Christ, like Nicodemus.
I also want us to appreciate the Pharisees because they did all the things God asked of them. They read their Bibles daily. They had long, regular quiet times. They never missed worship (church, you could say). They gave generously. They were involved in all the committees. They did all the right things. But they still were not on good terms with God. In fact, they had it all so backwards that when they met God in person, in Jesus, they not only didn’t recognize him, but they rejected him and worked with their enemies, the Romans and the Sadducees, to have Jesus executed! On the outside, the Pharisees had it all together. They looked amazing. Of all the people, they must be on good terms with God!
Today, we have many people who follow all the rules. They read their Bible daily. They can quote it at length. They pray regularly. They never miss church. They give 10% to the church. From the outside, they look like they have it all together. They look like, of all people, they must be right with God. But on the inside, they’re a mess. They do not represent Jesus well. Maybe they use scripture to put others down. Maybe they are nice and calm out in public, but in private they are angry people. Perhaps they give 10%, but do it grudgingly, or for the tax rebate, or to make sure the church leaders know it’s them who is giving!
If this can be true of the people who look the best, of the people who read their Bibles regularly, who are devoted to their quiet times, who seem to have it all together, what about the rest of us? If our discipleship teaches us that being a better Christian means reading our Bibles more, praying more, attending church more, giving more and serving more, but these people are already doing these things, what’s happening? They’re doing all these things, but they’re not actually being transformed. They’re not happy people. They’re not the people we want to spend time with. They’re not the people who make a pastor’s life easier. They’re the difficult people. They’re the judgmental people. They’re the contrary people. So what gives?
Categories | Sermon Video
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