We the Pharisees.

If Dos Equis were to make a “The Most Interesting Man” commercial about my life, the tag line would be: “I don’t always go to church but when I do, I pay attention.”

Our church is in a weird transition. We attend a satellite campus of a mega church in our area. Normally I am completely against the very notion of a mega church but this church is significantly smaller and is making great strides to be multi-ethnic, so my wife and I agreed to give it a shot. Our current head pastor has been moved into an intercity ministry and thus there is something of a power void at the church. As of this writing neither of our two associate pastors has been named the new head pastor.

I like to think that there is a Hunger Games tournament going on between the two of them during the week to see who will become the next Senior Pastor. 

Why is this important to our blog post? Well last Sunday we had a special joint sermon. It was a little awkward. Both associate pastors sat on stools and went back and forth discussing the coming of the Kingdom. More specifically they were discussing whether we truly wanted the Kingdom to come.

 The sermon started with Pastor 1 asking the congregation if we wanted the Kingdom of Heaven to come.

The congregation responded with an audible “Yes!”. 

Pastor 1 then questioned the sincerity of the congregation and stated that people’s true desires always come out when tested. He then gave an analogy of the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team. I’ll do my best to summarize the analogy. 

Essentially if you asked a player on the ’47 Dodgers team what their desires were, they would tell you unequivocally that they wanted to win Championships. This was tested by the signing of Jackie Robinson who was an amazing player that would help them win Championships. Since most of his teammates met his signing with racism and hatred their true desires were shown. They were more about segregation then they were about winning championships. 

Pastor 1 then threw the question back at the congregation. “What are your true desires?”

Pastor 2 came in here and started talking about the Pharisees and if you had asked them what their true desire was they would say “The coming of the Messiah”. Yet, as we know, when Christ came they crucified him. He then told us that if the Pharisees were alive today they would be sitting with us in Church. Essentially, we are the Pharisees of our day. 

The takeaway from the sermon was that we needed to constantly be asking ourselves what’s our true motivation. Are we more motivated by our biases, racism, hatred, sin, self-desires, etc… or are we motivated by the coming of the Kingdom.  As such we were sent home in contemplation of how we as a church could find and fix our motivations so that we don’t become like the Pharisees. 

Well Pastors I did just that! Like I said I pay attention. 

I spent the majority of this week kicking around the thought of us being the Pharisees, and Christ walking the earth today instead of 2000 years ago. I kept coming back to the question of who would Christ be sitting with at the well, or in our case the local bar. Who would flock to Him in search of hope and healing. Who have the “modern Pharisees” forgotten and why?

I think the answer to this question and the question posed by Pastor 1 and Pastor 2 is simple; the marginalized. Those who have been forgotten by society. Those who don’t have an equal chance at life. Those who have been silenced or oppressed. Those who are hungry, thirsty, lost, poor, jailed, in need or any other form of marginalization. 

I think the Church would agree with me up until this point. Here is where Pastor 1 and Pastor 2 will disagree with me. I think the marginalized include women, transgenders, lesbians and gays. I think if Christ came today he would be shocked as to why our Christian Culture sucks at letting women lead and why we can’t make homosexuals feel welcome and participate in the congregation. I think he would wonder why we are so divisive to anyone who isn’t like us. 

But I agree with the pastors in one aspect. We are the Pharisees. We see injustices and we say nothing. We help continue those injustices. We continue to allow the “least of these” be marginalized. We continue to allow divisiveness dictate our Sunday mornings and have little desire to change it. 

At the end of the day the question of how the Church engages these marginalized communities is complicated. I don’t mean to over simplify such a deep and polarizing issue but I often find myself asking one question; “Wouldn’t you rather leave the door so far open?”

When I stand before Christ I will account for a lot of stupid things. I guess I just don’t want to have to account for pushing people away from him. 

Matthew 25:31-46

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’



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