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Posts Tagged ‘Pharisee’

busy busy busyMy mind has been churning all morning as I contemplate the reading for today (Luke 18:10-14). Although I understand the overt message of the illustration between the Pharisee and the Tax Collector praying in the Temple, I also find myself resisting an all out dip into “worm” theology. Part of my problem is that I have slid into “self-condemnation” over the years and it can be quite debilitating. Where is the balance between self worth or self-esteem and humility?

Now imagine these two men walking back down the road to their homes. Listen, it’s the tax collector who walks home clean before God, and not the Pharisee, because whoever lifts himself up will be put down and whoever takes a humble place will be lifted up. [Luke 18:14, The Voice]

It’s a matter of perspective. It’s a matter of source: where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord. [Psalm 121:1]

If I can reach the point where my inner self is truly united and led by Spirit, then this quandary would be moot. I am the “human doing” in my family and in my community. I am always on the go and there are projects to be tackled everywhere. Although I have survived my period of perfectionism, I can still be quite manic about a job well done. I am interested in everything. On Saturday, I attended our library’s volunteer celebration to thank the many who come to our library to give of their time and energy. On the way there, one of my volunteers talked about her basket guild and I thought, wouldn’t that be great? I could learn how to weave baskets. At the event, the speaker was a Master Gardener and I thought, wouldn’t that be great? I could have a vegetable garden in my back yard or a container garden on my deck. On our way home, another volunteer talked about cooking. Wouldn’t that be great? I could learn about gourmet cooking. I could write a book. I could paint my bathroom. I could re-organize my closet. I could put my dog into obedience school. I could take a photograph every day of the sunrise on the water. I could. . . I could . . . pant, pant, pant.

Look what I’m doing Lord! Look at me being busy!!!

But what would God have me do?

If God is in the doing, then it’s all about God anyway. And not about me.

Take a breath.

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This post could have the heading, Protestants and Catholics, or Shi’ite and Sunni, or Orthodox and Reform, that’s how little monotheistic believers have changed over the centuries. One God… and yet, they become divided over the details.

Acts 23:7
When he [Paul] said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided.

Paul used his knowledge of these differences between the sects to show the Roman commander how easily religious fervor could end in violence. The commander had assumed there was something much more sinister behind the attack on Paul and wouldn’t have believed that differences in faith practices could come to blows.

Nothing much has changed. Catholics and Protestants still kill each other in Ireland. Sunnis and Shi’ites kill each other in the Middle East. Orthodox and Reform basically ignore each other but there is plenty of hostile rhetoric.

Who has the truth? Which way is the absolute right way? The Christians will say the Bible is our authority and truth is there. I believe that. And yet, there are more than forty denominations who use the same Bible and interpret it differently. Islam has the Koran and Jews the Torah. But it is not enough to keep them together either.

For a season, everyone is united when there is a common enemy, but as soon as that “enemy” is vanquished, the in-fighting begins anew. Is this the true inheritance of the “tower of babel?” [Genesis 11:9]

Jesus was neither Pharisee nor Sadducee. He was a Jew. He brought to the world the simplicity of two truths: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself. [Luke 10:27] There is no faith, no denomination, no sect, that cannot live by these two truths. They defy interpretations, unless someone wants to split hairs on what love means. But, as humans, born to love, I believe we know how to love. We simply choose not to do it.

This is a good day to love. I can choose to love. Unconditional love does not split hairs. God blesses those who love.

Oh Lord, bless me this day. Teach me. Remind me throughout the day to love.

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