I’ve been reading Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne. It has really challenged my thinking…and I am working through the insights raised in this book.
First, he challenged my perception of the Pharisees:
But in Jesus’ day, being called a Pharisee was a badge of honor. It was a complement, not a slam. That’s because first-century Pharisees excelled in everything we admire spiritually. They were zealous for God, completely committed to their faith. They were theologically astute, masters of the biblical texts…their embrace of spiritual disciplines were second to none.
He then challenged my approach to Discipleship:
With regard to growth, it was always like a video game. There was always a higher level to attain. No matter how much people grew, no matter what sacrifices they made to get to that point, there was always a next level they needed to reach to fully please the Lord.
Worse, I chided people who grew weary. I pushed them to work harder, pray longer, and study more. Taking a break or temporarily stepping to the sidelines was simply not an option. Satan didn’t rest, why should we?
My discipleship motto was simple: no pain no gain. If you wanted rest, a lighter load, or an easier path, you’d come to the wrong place. I didn’t think’s what Jesus offered. He offered a cross to bear, death to self, and eternal rewards to the faithful few who were willing to pay the price and stay the course.
And he continued to mess with my thinking here:
But the moment my personal application of Scripture becomes the lens through which I judge others, something has gone terribly wrong.
The black-and-white commands of Scripture aren’t open to differing interpretations. We don’t have the freedom to choose which of the Bible’s commands we like and which we don’t, which ones we agree with, and which ones we find outdated. We don’t have freedom to lie, steal, slander, turn a deaf ear to the poor, hoard the gospel, worship idols, or fornicate.
But we do have freedom in many other areas. And it’s this freedom that can drive the fledgling legalist within all of us crazy. Once the Holy Spirit places a clear call on our life to do something (or not to do it), it’s hard for most of us to fathom why everyone else didn’t get the same memo.
I hope this has been sufficient to encourage you to get this book. It is a great read, and will challenge your thinking in a lot of areas!
Thanks for listening.