Saturday, March 06, 2004

12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee 5

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

STEP 5: "We will cease all attempts to apply teaching and rebuke to anyone but ourselves".

A few notes on the step 5 text:
12 steps for the recovering phariseethinking it's other people who need to hear that "truth," who need the Christian music . . . I like that one! The "Judging those who judge" subtitle is a big one for me . . . which is worse? Me or those judgers out there? JF's using the word "condemnation" reminds me of Paul's famous, "There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." I've always loved the way Paul continues his trains of thoughts with that "therefore!" Page 66: "You get worked up over what you are battling in your own life." Very often true, but I wouldn't say that's always and inevitably so. Page 67: thinking you already know what you need to know as an "obstacle to truth and revelation."

Page 68: hard keeping faith alive when everyone you know is a Christian. No one has to articulate the faith in a context where it's assumed . . . JF mentioning his church's pastor "overcoming many internal barriers just to get up there." Also, reminding people of his humanity, and of theirs. I like that a lot! Page 75 – to embrace the gospel each day!

1. How do you feel about not being in a position to teach others? What do you learn from your feelings in this area?

Well, duh – if this is about life issues, in the past I'm been quite persistently unteachable, so others likely need to learn the hard way, too. But about teaching in general, you people gotta remember I'm an ENFJ, otherwise known as "the natural teacher," so in that regard I tend to do very well.

2. How can we know the difference between being angry at something because it is sinful and being angry because of sin in our own lives? When is anger justifiable? What does our anger tell us?

Wow, this is a great question! Especially the first sentence of it. I think it's valid to be angry at sin in general and at our particular sinfulness and sins. Sometimes anger is justified, but it need to be properly expressed and acted on and scripture tells us not to let the sun set on our anger.

3. What parts of the gospel of Jesus Christ are we suppressing or denying in order to maintain our position, status, or platform?

For me the gospel part I sometimes suppress and feel justified (!) for suppressing it is the inclusive piece: I do not want those rich, fake, narrow-minded or other similar types to be in the same (heavenly?) place as I am. I guess that needs to read "heavenly places!"

4. Are we losing our childlike wonder? It there a reason others are afraid to tell us we are becoming hardened and critical?

Sometimes. But Sunday afternoon and Sunday evening both were pretty much fun. But annoying, since people were laughing at things I said that I meant to be ironic or even sarcastic rather than funny. Historically I've definitely tended to be far too serious about everything, including (especially) myself

5. What can we learn from Jesus' response to Nicodemus? How is it possible to know the truth and yet not be born again? How can we have the answer and still be avoiding the question?

Being "born again" is about letting go of our control, it's about the scariness of entering the darkness of the pre-birth womb or tomb, and allowing the God who raises the dead to raise us to new birth. To use another Johannine analogy, being born again means letting the Spirit blow where the Spirit wills – about the unimaginableness of God! In the end, it means being convicted of our Pharisee-ness, being cleansed and then set free to serve.

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