One of the songs I remember from Sunday School had a verse that went:
“I don’t want to be a Pharisee. (3x)
‘Cause they’re not fair-ya-see.
I don’t want to be a Pharisee.”
But what if you wanted to be a Pharisee? What’s so wrong with that? We all have our favorite Bible characters, right? They occupy a large chunk of the spotlight in the Gospel stories, so why should we judge people who pick them as a Bible hero? I’ve met plenty of people who seem to have done just that!
To help us understand those who connect best with the Pharisees of Scripture, I’d like to present the first ever Guide to Living Like a Pharisee in six simple steps.
Step One: Pick and choose which Bible verses to apply to your life. Obey only the verses that suit you. If commands to love your neighbor as yourself or to love mercy are a problem – drop them.
Extra points if you choose to obey obscure verses in the Bible that can be applied without a major crimp to your style – ensuring life continues mostly unchanged but people perceive you as extra-holy for living by Bible verses they didn’t even know existed.
Step Two: Feed your ego. Soak in the praises of others. Seek the spotlight. Only serve in ways that will get you attention. Seize positions of honor whenever possible.
Extra Points if you take on impressive titles.
Step Three: Be a hidden danger to seekers. Look good, clean and virtuous on the outside, but inside be full of vile things like hypocrisy, greed, self-indulgence and general wickedness.
Extra Points if you remind people of a good-looking tomb on the outside full of rotting bodies on the inside.
Step Four: Strap the people who listen to you and look to you for leadership to impossible legalistic rules and standards.
Extra points if you’ve so weighed them down with things that won’t encourage their righteousness that they’re completed detoured from the truth.
Step Five: Kill and bury (figuratively also works here!) God’s true messengers. They might warn people not to follow in your footsteps.
Extra points if you can pass the tradition down to your children.
Step Six: Prevent others from obtaining the knowledge of God. Shut the door to the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces and bar the gates. Ensure that if you won’t experience the kingdom’s freedom, joy, peace and power then neither will anyone else!
In just those six short steps, you too can live like a Pharisee.
See Matthew 23 & Luke 11 for further information.