Pharisees. Bad Guys of the Bible. Whether we’re reading the Word or watching Easter movies, we love to sneer as they diss Jesus. We shake our heads in disgust when they criticize him, twisting his words, and putting him down.
Yeah, the Pharisees were bad dudes, but they’re not extinct; you can still find them in churches today. Churches? Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t. You see, Pharisees are and always were religious people. They’re the folks who pick at the Pastor’s sermons. They cut down sincere, influential ministries, dismissing them false prophets and editing their words until they say things they never meant to say.
The Pharisee spirit is encapsulated a “holier-than-thou attitude.” It’s the elevation of judgment over mercy, the imposition of the Letter of the Law over its spirit. Instead of reveling in the diversity of the members of Christ’s Body, Pharisees condemn all who disagree with them, calling them heretics and cultivating the “us-four-and-no-more” attitude that’s responsible for the array of denominations we see today.
I’ve noticed some negative posts on Facebook lately. They pick at a ministry that touches some 40 million people monthly, through television and other media, which is led by a self-effacing pastor whose books have impacted over 30 million, and include five New York Times best-sellers. Amazingly, this minister is responsible for leading over one million people to the Lord. And yet folks disparage him, talk about him as if he were the devil, and act as if they knew more about the Gospel and how to present it to a lost world than he does.
If there was ever anyone who had a right to criticize others’ ministries, it would have to be the Apostle Paul, who alone wrote the majority of the New Testament. And yet Paul himself says, “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Rms. 14:4)
Yes, Jesus himself said, “Judge not, that be not judged.” (Mat. 7:1) Which makes me wonder: how much nicer a place might the Church of Jesus Christ be if we simply obeyed its Founder and cut each other a little slack?