Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Pastors and Pharisees

If you've read the Bible or have more than a passing familiarity with it you'll know that Jesus had time for everyone, with the exception of the Pharisees. A Pharisee, in Biblical times, were the religious leaders of the Jewish people. They were responsible for the spiritual well being of their people. They were to set the example for all to follow via their actions and teachings.
However, in reality they often lorded their position over the people. They often decided who was acceptable to be with in society and who were not. They looked down upon people who were not Jewish, i.e. the Gentiles and the Samaritans. They considered 'sinners' less than human and would gleefully point them out for judgement and condemnation. During Jesus' time on earth he repeatedly pointed out the gaps between their teaching and their actions. When they questioned his choice of dining partners, he replied that it was the sick that needed a doctor, not the healthy. He repeatedly showed the hypocracy that ran rampent in their ranks, so much so that they ended up having him crucified.

Fast Forward to 2007 in America. Christian leaders daily face the challange of living out their beliefs and teachings. One wrong step and they go from pastor to pharisee. Now let me tell you how I define these two terms and give you some examples so you know where I am coming from.

Pastor: Does his best to live by the teachings in the Bible. Puts words into actions via ministry work like Angel Tree, Christmas in April, feeding the homeless, volunteering at a hospice. They are more concerned with spreading God's message than their own glory and power. They don't want the biggest church they want an effective one.

Think Billy Graham, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Pope John Paul II. The churches who were too busy helping others to rebuild their churches after Katrina were led by real pastors.

Pharisee: Claims to be a Christian and will speak with authority. Knows the Bible from stem to stern. Often makes strong moral statements about hot button issues. May or may not be active in ministries mentioned above. Says one thing and does another. Doesn't live by what is preached or will not preach according to what's in the Bible. Often very concerned with their personal power and glory, God gets the leftovers if He's lucky. Will often fall from grace in public scandal, usually due to an extra martial affair of some sort.

Think Jim Baker, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Fred Phelps, Pat Robertson, Ted Haggard, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

I'll bet you recognize the Pharisees or had a similar list as you were reading my description. To be honest you'll rarely see Pastors in the news because they don't call attention to themselves or their work, because they're not in it for personal glory. And honestly the MSM won't report on them because they don't like to paint Christians in a positive light. They'd rather focus on the Pharisees and show the world that all Christians are like this, no matter what the reality is.