Kara Crosby and I met over coffee the other day. It had been months since we’d talked, so we found ourselves discussing everything that came to our minds. We hit the important stuff first: jobs, love lives, families, etc. And to an outsider, it must have been entertaining to listen in, as we packed months of life into about thirty minutes of dialogue.
But like most conversations I have with this woman, we found ourselves spilling out God’s pushes, shoves and uncomfortable movement in our lives.
I don’t remember the context, where it came from, or how we ended up stuck on it for so long, but suddenly we both began to confess our distaste for what we both called modern day Pharisees. My distaste followed with a serious heart-check and a realization that at times my motives have been like these men.
These verses from Matthew 23 sum up quite a bit:
“1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses.[a] 3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. 4 They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.
5 “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels.[b] 6 And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. 7 They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’[c]
8 “Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters.[d] 9 And don’t address anyone here on earth as ‘Father,’ for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. 10 And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you must be a servant. 12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
I’d be foolish to think that these men only lived two thousand years ago, and that I can’t relate to them at all. I truly wish I could say that. But there are times where I’ve lived for that earthly exaltation alone.
Holiness does not have to be proven. No need to parade it around for your Christian friends to get a glimpse of. Your “supreme” knowledge of the ways of God isn’t helping anyone. It’s distasteful. It’s disgusting. Few can trust or relate to you anyways. Don’t share simply to gain recognition.
But gosh, if we are doing something semi-beneficial to humanity, the least we can do is “instagram” that moment real quick, add a nice filter, post it on twitter, feel good about ourselves, and call it a day.
Share things with the intention of building the church.
Of expanding the kingdom.
And even at the end of all this, I sincerely question my own motives for even writing it.