Friday, February 24, 2017

Am I a Pharisee?

When we watch movies (and TV dramas), it's natural to take sides. To identify with the hero. To root for the good guys and take moral satisfaction when the bad guys lose. Indeed, many movies deliberately manipulate the audience into taking sides. 

When we read the Bible, the same psychology kicks in. And up to a point, there's nothing wrong with that. We're supposed to take sides. And we're supposed to side with Jesus. We're supposed to identify with God's people rather than the enemies of Jesus.

However, we need to be careful about that. For instance, when reading the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, our natural tendency is to subconsciously identify with the tax collector and cast individuals or groups we disapprove of in the role of the Pharisee. 

But that's diametrically contrary to how we ought to it. When reading that parable, we should ask ourselves, "Am I like the Pharisee?" Christians need to periodically ask themselves, am I unconsciously falling into a Pharisaic outlook? 

This happens when we begin to make our assurance of faith dependent on drawing an invidious contrast between ourselves with other people. Where we think orthodoxy, or what we take to be orthodoxy, is a substitute for sanctity. Where we think that being against something puts us on the path to heaven. 

Ironically, recasting our theological opponents in the role of Pharisees can easily make us unwittingly reprise the role of the Pharisee. We become the villain by casting others in the villainous role. We unintentionally assume the role of the bad guy by succumbing to spiritual pride. 

But Christians always need to be self-critical. Regularly practice self-examination so that we don't fall into that trap. 

1 comment:

  1. Or for me, the question is more like "What am I being a Pharisee about right now?", because I know there's bound to be something...