Tuesday, March 02, 2004

12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee 1

12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me): Finding Grace to Live Unmasked by John Fischer on Amazon

Step 1 – "We admit that our single most unmitigated pleasure is to judge other people."

My first reaction was, "but judging others definitely is not my 'single most unmitigated pleasure'" – I feel, I know people have judged me wrongly and unfairly too, too many times! What floats my boat? What really floats my boat? Lots of things, but I love reading theology and writing theology, teaching and preaching, as well as drawing and playing the piano, esp in public.

12 steps for the recovering phariseeAs I previously posted, I'm not particularly advanced in my Jesus walk, but what's useful in this Step 1 chapter is John Fischer's examples of the routine and casual daily judgments we make: I recall Jesus Tillich describing how people tend to be prideful because they've avoided the "more serious sins . . ." so now I hear myself saying I usually avoid "more serious types of judging!" I like his saying, "So long as we remain our own authority, we do not have to be challenged." Conclusions [about self and others] that contradict reality? Hmmmm . . . however, I constantly judge myself for all of that small stuff, maybe not noticing the big offenses? But then is "judgment" the correct word? Isn't impatience or annoyance more accurate?

Back to the book: if these Pharisees – these representatives of the Law – had entered heaven, they wouldn't be judging! Wow! As Fischer, reminds us, God gave us and Jesus showed us the absolutely essential law: doing justice, loving mercy and walking – humbly – with our God!

Study questions, page 165:

1. Why is it that we tend to develop a strong, established "out look" on life but neglect to foster a truthful, searching "in look"?

Because not only do we live in the physical world of God's creation, but because society – in both its external and its internal-ized manifestations – constantly accompanies our every move, every thought and every emotion. We gotta live with all of those other people and we've discovered it can be hell at least as much as it sometimes is heaven.

2. How does an inwardly judgmental attitude gradually shift our standard from being focused on God to being focused on people? What are the dangers of comparing ourselves to others?

This is a 2-part question. 1) Focusing my standards on people means I ignore our holy God's demands and then quit trusting God's direction and provision and then gradually assume the criteria and values that popular culture, a self-serving, prosperity-seeking and affluent sports and entertainment industry keeps visiting upon me rather than critiquing my behavior and attitudes by Gospel standards. 2) One of the pastors I served with often used to say (from Recovery International, i believe), "Comparisons are odious." But I think there are valid uses of comparisons! But that's not what this is asking. The dangers of comparing ourselves to others (or others to ourselves) include striving to be like them or not like them rather than to be walking our walk. IOW, living their lives rather than our own life.

3. By setting our own "standard," in what way(s) is our view of reality altered? How can spiritual arrogance bring us to the point of assuming that our standard has become God's standard?

I'll refer to my response to question 2, and also say our (my) reality becomes where I live, what I live and what I give: where my treasure is, there will my heart be also, and these days for many of us time is our utmost treasure and one of the things we're (I'm) most selfish and least selfless with.

4. Can you think of anyone you would not want to be with in heaven? Give your reasons.

Well, a few of those historically notorious types...

5. Judging others used to be pleasurable for us. Now, knowing that we will be measured according to the measure we use, why does it make sense to be a "recovering Pharisee"?

Becoming a "recovering Pharisee" seems like a good idea so I can live more of the time with God's perspective on life (my own and others) and serve God and others more faithfully.

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