I have within me the tendency to be a Bratty Little Pharisee, and God has been relentless in His pruning away of those opportunities.
I do not enjoy the pruning process.
Phariseeism is the setting up of One True Way to go about doing life that isn’t straight from the Bible. It’s over-and-above, in order to make life perfect or be perceived as a perfect person. Phariseeism doesn’t necessarily stem from an evil impulse, and the things that we do to become Pharisees aren’t necessarily bad things – in fact, to be a true blue Pharisee, the over-and-above stuff has to be objectively good!
Example: I spent my college years yearning for the day when I’d be married and a mom. The subjects I chose to research, my daydreaming, all of it, oriented to having the Perfect Pregnancy/Birth/Nursing experience. By the time (years later) when I had the opportunity to “start trying”, I did everything obsessively “right”. But God didn’t intend for me to be a BLP.
I bled. I got exhaustion. I had life craziness. That was bad enough… but then I couldn’t have the baby naturally. Oh, I tried. I tried hard enough that there were nurses gossiping in the corridor about “why was the doctor putting this poor woman through this?” And then I tried to nurse and didn’t have enough milk. I was BITTERLY disappointed. That was my idol – a perfect pregnancy, a natural, no-pain-killer birth, nursing for ages…. and I did all the things that I could have done to make that happen, and it didn’t.
Why? Well, there’s nothing wrong with anything I wanted, but there’s the rub – 1) it became an idol and 2) I was going to be absolutely unbearable… someone who said, “well THIS is the One Right Way”. God wouldn’t allow it.
I’ve been wanting to go back to the land and be a prepper and a homesteader for decades now. Still do. But God hasn’t allowed it as of yet. And for a good while, that was because it was (yes) an idol, but also because all the other Cool Christian Ladies were doing it. I haven’t got a clue how being serious about your faith means you should can your own tomatoes, but … hey. That was definitely a thing.
None of this stuff is BAD. Being a crunchy, natural birthing mom with a pantry full of home-canned food is GOOD. But it’s not God. It’s too easy to make the stuff of this world into God. It’s too easy to make the pursuit of earthly perfection into your reason for living. It doesn’t have to be evil to get in the way of your relationship with the King.
I’ve had so many moments in my life where I’ve felt the bite of the choke collar … moments when I was going after something GOOD … but not something that God had planned for me. I *never* understand in that moment. Sometimes God’s had to yank hard and hurt me. That’s okay, He’s the Master, and it is for my good. It still hurts.
I’m grateful that God doesn’t allow me to be a Pharisee. I would be, if it were up to me.
Why am I grateful? Because when you become a Pharisee you put your idols between the world and God. You hold up all the extra stuff and say, “this is how I’m good” and you don’t hold up Christ and say, “It’s His righteousness that I’m wearing – my own is rags”.
Stuff happens in life. You don’t always get to live perfectly and according to your plan. If you put your plans above your obedience to God, you’re going to screw your own heart up, and much worse, you’re going to make other folks think they have to be just like you to get into the kingdom of Heaven. We in this time and place are so incredibly fortunate – we think we can make life perfect with just a few tweaks. But life isn’t perfect. It’s … life. Heaven is perfect, and it’s Heaven that is our true home.
And I don’t want to imply through any of this that I don’t have an amazing life. I’ve been blessed in so many ways. I couldn’t count them all. I am provided for and protected and sheltered and allowed to bloom.
…but if I could just tweak…