Jackson Five Friday: American Pharisees

Hey Friends,

This week has been a mixed bag for me.  Parenting is hard sometimes.  If it’s not hard at least part of the time, then there’s something amiss ( Hebrews 12:11).  In addition, now that I’m feeling more settled in Tennessee, I’m contemplating going back to work in some capacity –thinking through and pursuing what would be best for me and for my family is both exciting and stressful.  Then there’s the daily hammering I get via newsfeeds –the prevalence of groupthink is staggering.  Where have all the rational, deep thinkers gone?  Humility would require something like this: “These are complex issues.  I won’t pretend to have the answers.”  But no, instead the masses who pontificate on every little thing just keep growing.  Free speech means you can say whatever you want, but that doesn’t mean every opinion matters or should have equal weight.  Let’s filter for significance.  For example, unless you give 10% of your gross annual income and can point to your calendar to evidence some level of volunteerism, why weigh in on how to help the needy?  Unless these minimum requirements are met, you aren’t really invested in helping others.   I know someone rather well who meets these standards and who has also read voraciously about how best to help people.  Yet you’ll never find him just spouting off with all the answers to everything under the sun.  Dang, he’s sexy.

People often don’t even ask the most infantile of questions.  Soundbites and Twitter have replaced careful consideration of any policy or theory alongside its alternatives.  It’s as if the often enlightening question, “What’s the alternative?” has been eliminated from our logic toolkit  Has our attention span really narrowed that much?  There also seems to be a real struggle by some to comprehend that the government does not have some secret, infinite source of funding.  Uncle Sam is not America’s rich relative with trillions of extra dollars lying around.  Whenever the government spends a single dollar, it comes from fellow Americans.  Ignorance of this basic fact is perplexing, to say the least.  Utter hatred, coupled with the lack of measured analysis, can really be disheartening.  How do you break through this mob mentality?

Maybe you don’t.  Maybe you just can’t break through when people begin to find their identity and purpose in mobism.  There is a self-righteous thread in it that feeds the ego — the sense of self-importance seems to snowball into an American Pharisee.  Pharisees say that unless you follow our rules, and believe what we believe, and protest what we protest, you aren’t worthy of respect.  Pharisees don’t listen to opposing views, and they don’t reason through anything.  Worst of all, Pharisees never offer grace to anyone.

So what is the solution?  In one sense, it’s easy.  The answer is Christ.  Embracing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior gives you an identity and purpose.  Apart from Christ I can do nothing. (John 15:5).  Through Him I can do anything. (Philippians 4:13). The purpose of my life is to glorify Him.  It’s really very, very simple. But in another sense, it’s very, very hard for people to humble themselves before the Lord, to recognize that He alone is Holy, that He alone is Sovereign.  The Bible says that each person is made in the image of God.  We are called to love and respect each and every person.  We are called to pray for all people.

This week in my Bible study, I learned about how Nehemiah prayed for four months about the state of disrepair in Jerusalem.  He had heard about it through his brother, but he himself lived a thousand miles away.  As the official cupbearer, Nehemiah had daily access to the king, but he didn’t act hastily.  No, he prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed, mourning and fasting for four months before finally God opened the door to speaking to the king about returning to his beloved homeland.

I found this very convicting.  I had to ask myself, “When was the last time I consistently prayed about something for four months?” I have a hard time doing this for personal concerns, much less the well-being of my country. 

So today I am committing to praying for the return of civil dialogue. Nehemiah prayed about building a wall of protection around Jerusalem, a physical wall.   I am praying for fewer barriers, for the figurative walls between our divided nation to come tumbling down, for the return of civil and respectful discourse.  

Will you please join me in this specific prayer?  

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Love to you,


One thought on “Jackson Five Friday: American Pharisees

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