It’s a funny life to live being in ministry without growing up in the church, having no desire to be in church; and not knowing what any of it would be like. My best guess is that God knew if I knew beforehand I would simply have told Him, ‘No thank You. What else do you have in store for m?’ NEXT! I say that with all seriousness as I truly had no idea yet I thank God for His protection that keeps me strong with each passing day.
And so in a conversation with someone recently we talked about how the church changed over the generations- to which was amusing because of my level of ignorance of it all. This man has been in ministry about 60 years so he knows a thing or two. Me; well I grew up Catholic. I never owned a Bible yet went to private Catholic school. Not only this; my adoptive parents did the church renovations and I was an alter girl so needless to say I had my overfill of religion.
I did go years later to a charismatic church and I had never seen anything like it. So many people doing all those weird things; their arms in the air, some running around, and people of every color. I didn’t know what to think to say the least. It was like seeing Vegas I guess for the first time. You just don’t know what to look at first- or if you should look at all. I did go back although never became a member because I didn’t understand why I needed to give them my address. Why did they need to know where I lived? I didn’t get it. That was my level of ignorance that I brought to the table.
Years late and thousands of hours with the Lord I started growing in this thing called ministry. It was life changing; and in ways that I truly did not expect. There are so many things that if I knew I would not be here today. Again; it’s only God’s hand on me that has me here and for that I am grateful. When I look at the Pharisees and what they are about really wasn’t just them back in the day behaving as though they did; it’s no different today. My guess is that we always will be in some form or fashion. In fact you may be one; but we won’t tell. Let’s identify just a few things that Pharisees did then that are still done today. I share these things so that you too can be free to just be you and who God created you to be:
- You hold people to your own higher than the Bible standards. It’s amazing how many people have told me that if you are woman in heels you just can’t love the Lord. I laugh. I didn’t use to. Oh yes; you can’t wear that, say that, do that, eat that, hang around ‘those’ people, go there, live there; read that version of the Bible, and the list goes on. I can tell you brothers and sisters; if you have fallen under this by anyone- rebuke it and run! It will only steal from you as it did me for many years and I certainly do not want you to give way to the bondage it breeds. If you are forcing others to follow only the rules and regulations that others have forced on you; perhaps you are a Pharisee and just haven’t yet been free. It’s time to just be free in Christ. Then read 1 Sam 16:7 , ‘But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Imagine that.
- You follow man-made traditions more-so than the teachings of Jesus and the Bible. Oh yes you have your traditions and they carry more weight than anything Jesus said. You may be aware of what Jesus said; but what you do and how it was done in the past just means more. Matthew 15:6 identifies it clearly, “…Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.” What man made traditions do you currently follow that aren’t even in the Bible? Do you know? Time to find out! You just may be making life more difficult for yourself trying to keep up. Let it go and just live.
- You seek the opinion of man more-so than the Word of God. Man will always have an opinion; just ask him. (man being Biblically gender identified as man and woman) Just because man has opinion means nothing more than this. The pharisees upheld their own ideas and opinions as the truth though the Lord Jesus was right in front of them speaking Truth but they were so blind they could not see it. The modern day Pharisee will spend more time sharing and seeking man’s ideas and justifying them for purpose of self-righteousness rather than humbling themselves to the Word of God which is Truth. It’s hard to grasp that man’s opinions are just that; opinions. God’s Word is Truth. (and I’m not going to argue that as you can just go to God for that one.)
- The purpose for glorification is about self. Your focus is about you for you and you make sure everyone knows it. When you are about you; others will see it. How much you give, how often and long you fast, how many Psalms you have memorized and the list goes on. Where is your focus will always be identified. I often ask my coaching clients this one question: ‘Are you using your platform to build your audience or your audience to build your platform’? The response says everything. The Pharisees were all about self and making sure everyone knew how great they were and if you are too; then perhaps ask the Lord to reveal new areas of life to you as it will be refreshing to you and everyone around you.
- You feel better knowing you aren’t like ‘that person’. Oh yes it’s everywhere. The moment that you are thankful you aren’t someone else or that your ministry isn’t like that person’s you entered into a level of comparison and judgment. You have just elevated yourself to a status that you really are not at. You are not any better than the person with the larger or smaller ministry. You are no better than the person with the smaller bank account. You are no better than the single man or woman. You simply are not. And the moment you feel better about not being someone else is the moment you aren’t thanking God for who He created you to be and that open door is one that the enemy can taint in more ways than most realize. Wouldn’t it be sad to learn from the Lord that that person you were judging was more Christian than you think you are? Yeah- so don’t even open the door.
- You are offended easily. Oh yes; it’s so funny to read all about the Pharisees who were just fit to be tied. Why on earth; think about this- would so many people be offended by what someone else says that isn’t even to them? It’s like going to a Trump Rally to be offended on purpose and then blaming him for what he is saying. Ummm…. hello. Get a clue. Your offense is your problem and if you are living offended it’s just something to talk to God about. The Pharisees probably would have enjoyed life more if they weren’t so offended and uptight. You being offended is making everything about you and well; it just isn’t. Jesus died on the cross- not you. It’s just life so just get over it and start enjoying yourself.
- You love to argue because you believe you are right. It’s amazing to me how much Christians like or rather; love to argue- and with each other. I had absolutely no idea! I also had no clue entering into this life that Christians love to do it so much to prove themselves right and so blatantly while not grasping the reality that someone doesn’t have to be wrong in order for you to be right. It’s all ok. The Pharisees just loved the argument and for what reason? You arguing louder doesn’t change the content of the argument. You calling other pastors, ministers or anyone else names doesn’t make you right. It just doesn’t. Seriously- what is the fuss about? Ok- so you are right? What does that change? Did you bring someone to Christ? Oh- you didn’t? No you just are right in your own mind for your self-glorification and elevation. Now isn’t that special? The Pharisees are those who just love calling out others who just don’t agree with them and here me clearly Saints- it does no one any good. In fact; it proves what everyone else says! It’s ok to just be you, be wrong and be happy.
In the end it’s really simple. If you are a Christian just focus on the Lord and follow the plan for your life that He has for you. Know that it won’t look like the plan of anyone else because it’s not supposed to. Thank God that He created you for such a time and place as this; that every need you have it met and that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength. Know that apart from Him you can do no good thing and that as you take every thought captive while seeking His Kingdom everything in your life will change. And you will be free; simple to be you and live.
Julie Blair went from homeless to hope-filled in Christ. She helps people be delivered and overcome issues in life so they can be free in Christ. Her radio program ‘Living in Forgiveness’ airs daily to 3B worldwide. Watch tonight at 9:30pm on the UANetwork. Check your local listing. For more visit www.julieblair.com