The Pharisee Recovery Program

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By: Drew Neal

Hi, my name is Drew, I’m a recovering Pharisee, and it’s been a few days and a few hours since my last judgment.  Let’s just laugh at that!

Melissa and I watched a movie recently that told the story of a priest falling in love with a woman.  It showcased having to walk out the tension of what he believed was expected of him by God and the love that he was feeling. Surrounding this central theme were loads of religious ideas that were not so far off from the life I used to live.  It was a life I called devoted, sanctified, and even necessary.  Of course when we say something is necessary for us as a qualifier for right standing with God, it quickly becomes an expectation that we place on those around us.  As I begin to encounter the kingdom, I began to ask if the things I thought were important were actually important to HIM? What where God’s ideas of devotion, sanctification or even the mystically endless necessities? The kingdom is many things, but anything that doesn’t look like freedom quickly turns to judgement. While many people talk about the slippery slopes of grace (I like His grace pretty slick by the way) what would it look like to start a “slippery slopes of judgement” movement? What if the moment someone began to be judgmental and we spoke up rather quickly to warn them that judgment is a slippery slope and we’d recommend extreme caution? (This is a window into how my brain works :) 

The holy trinity isn’t hiring, so let's stop trying to do God’s job. 

Many of the thoughts that run through our head reflect the need for a new nature. His nature. These thoughts are opportunities to see other’s from the divine nature rather from the nature of judgement.  We often think:  “she’s pretty”, “ he’s handsome”, “they’re bold” , “they’re timid”, “they’ll never be a leader”, “they’re going to be successful”, “they’re never going to make it”, “they’re a waste of time” and on an on. These are ideas rooted against scripture if we make these statements as conclusions of who people will always be, rather than recognize them as current observations. While it may be true that people are in a current state of need, the truth about them is found in Heaven’s perspective and we MUST treat them as so. Love always calls them forward, expects development and growth, but never partners with a limited perspective on their potential and ability for God to do something greater than we currently understand. II Corinthians 5:16 challenges us to no longer define people according to the flesh, but according to the new creation. What would it look like to love people according to the divine nature rather than their current limitations? 

While it may be our job to understand the fruit of someone’s life, it’s not our job to treat them the way they deserve, but to treat them the way they are worth… 

Let me say it another way.  It’s not our job to judge, it’s only our job to be light, to be love, and to let God do the rest.  When we judge we are partnering with the spirit of the accuser, not God’s spirit. Some of you are vehemently disagreeing with me right now, and that’s ok, but let me tell you this. There’s nowhere in scripture that God has invited us to take His job as judge. The truth is, we can’t handle it. Judgement includes the responsibility of establishing someone’s worth and unfortunately, the human nature doesn’t have the ability to establish someone’s worth in a limitless fashion and to be healthy at the same time. We would either place them below us because we’re insecure, or put them above us because we don’t believe we are worth anything. 

So who in your world doesn’t “deserve love”, but is worth it according to God’s perspective? What limitation have you placed on yourself because you see yourself according to your past rather than your future? How can we come into disagreement with the deception of judgement and partner with Heaven’s perspective … a new creation perspective? Let’s give the mercy we all long for in our own circumstances, let’s be hope-filled in all things and treat others and ourselves the way we are worth.  

With Encouragement, 
Drew Neal