Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pharisee, Sadducee, Denominationee

The Pharisees (lat. pharisæ|us, -i; from heb. פרושים perushim/פרוש parush, meaning "set apart")[1] were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought among Jews during the Second Temple period under the Hasmonean dynasty (140–37 BCE) in the wake of the Maccabean Revolt.
A political party, a social movement and a “school of thought among Jews”. Wow, they couldn’t make up their minds huh?
More copied:
Conflicts between the Pharisees and the Sadducees took place in the context of much broader and longstanding social and religious conflicts among Jews dating back to the Babylonian captivity and exacerbated by the Roman conquest. One conflict was class, between the wealthy and the poor, as the Sadducees included mainly the priestly and aristocratic families.[2][2] Another conflict was cultural, between those who favored hellenization and those who resisted it. A third was juridico-religious, between those who emphasized the importance of the Temple, and those who emphasized the importance of other Mosaic laws and prophetic values. A fourth, specifically religious, involved different interpretations of the Bible (or Tanakh), and how to apply the Torah to Jewish life, with the Sadducees recognizing only the written letter of the Tanakh or Torah and rejecting life after death, while the Pharisees held to Rabbinic interpretations additional to the written texts. Josephus indicates that the Pharisees received the backing and goodwill of the common people, apparently in contrast to the more elite Sadducees. Pharisees claimed prophetic or Mosaic authority for their interpretation[3] of Jewish laws, while the Sadducees represented the authority of the priestly privileges and prerogatives established since the days of Solomon, when Zadok, their ancestor, officiated as High Priest.

Sadducees: Wealthy, arrogant. Pharisees: Poorer, more blue collar crowd, most likely. Fighting over what to believe in. What interpretations of the writings to believe, what to throw out.
Read the above paragraph again. Did you notice one word that was omitted? GOD. They are trying to figure out what to believe, and God is not even in the equation. Each one claiming that they are right, or have the right because of their ancestors.
I’ve seen churches like this. A small number of families that have been in the one church since it opened its doors, sometimes a hundred years ago. Each family thinking that they are privileged and should hold the highest offices because of who their great grandparents were.
Praise God that they had great grandparents who were bold enough to start the church, and then to keep it going. But just because you are of a family doesn’t give you the right to hold office or any position of authority. Even public office holders are elected, their offices are not passed down to their siblings.
And I’ve seen denominations do the very same thing. Claiming to be better or more spiritual because they speak in tongues, and the others don’t, and many other reasons. Some denominations even draw the more aristocratic and wealthy. Some try to distinguish themselves in how they dress. Growing up, you could always tell when someone went to a “Church of God” or Pentecostal denomination, especially the women. Always long dresses, beehive or extremely long hairdo’s. No makeup. Etc. etc etc.
But take away that, and could you have been able to distinguish that they were a Christian? Except for a lot of uppidiness (is that even a word, well, it oughtta be!), No.
Jesus was confronted by the Sadducees and Pharisees many times. I won’t try to list them all, but the book of Matthew records a lot of the incidences where the confrontations took place. Jesus could be rather blunt. He didn’t pull any punches. He often times scolded them for even thinking in their traditions. Many times he tried to reverse their way of thinking and get them to realize that they had things totally reversed. They never got it. It just made them madder.
Just like the guy who was hung up on denominations at my pastoral committee hearing. (see last blog). Why are denominations important? They are only important to us. There were people who tried to be “followers of John the Baptist” and some who were “followers of Jesus.” John told them upfront that Jesus was greater, and that they should be following Him. Jesus never split His followers up into groups. Or classes. Or denominations. And when you read the bible, denominations are not even mentioned. Pharisees and Sadducees are about the closest thing to a denomination that is mentioned, where they are arguing over interpretation and beliefs. As denominations, do we want to be classified with them? I DON'T THINK SO!
The book of Revelations can be a hard and tricky book to understand. Lots of events and happenings. But when you read it, look at the most important part. The groups of people and animals and other beings that are gathered in Heaven and around the throne are not divided up in any way. They are worshipping together in unison.
If we can’t worship together in unison on earth, what makes us think we’re going to be able to do it in Heaven. What are you going to do when you stand before God and the multitudes are worshipping and bowing before Him?
Will this be you:
“God, will you make them quiet down a little bit. I can’t even think. I’m trying to remember what I’m supposed to do today at my mansion. And will you make them stand up? Do you know how hard it is to get the dirt off of these robes when they have been all over this floor? I’m tired of scrubbing clothes while I do the laundry. Lord, these people beside me are too happy when they are singing. Will you make them chill out and sing in a more somber tone?”
I have news for you. If you see yourself in that paragraph above, chances are you may not even get the chance to talk to Him. He may have already told you by that time, “Depart from me.” OUCH. That one is gonna hurt, and for eternity. In Hell.
You want to be around other people who are wailing and gnashing their teeth the way you did while in church? Go to Hell. I guarantee you’ll find that and worse.
You want to find people who truly love God. Go to Heaven. I’m sure there will be many people doing many different motions and saying different things when they are around the throne. But the one thing that will be different will be that no one is noticing what anyone else is doing. Their focus will be on God, and not the people around them.
Why can’t we do that now? Shouldn’t we practice what we’re going to be doing for eternity? There are sometimes when my humility causes me to be in a somber mood when I come to Him in prayer or worship. There are sometimes when I want to dance, sing and shout. There are times when I pray, and things come out of my mouth that I have no idea where they come from, or what language it was. And I’ve had it happen around me in a church service, but I hardly noticed, as I was focused on my worship at the time.
I believe that is what Heaven will be like. No one will care who you are, what you were, how prestigious and/or rich you were. God is all that matters when we get to Heaven, so we had better start thinking that way now. If you can’t put forth the effort to do it here, why should you get a chance to do it up there? But, God is a loving God, and He will decide who truly became His disciple, and who was faking it like a catfish out of water flopping about, that can only squeak out sounds that are not understood by man.
Church, let’s become Christian again. Let’s turn Christianity upside down from what it has become, and back to what it should have been in the first place. Let’s get to where we can worship together all the time, and not just on special occasions where communities will have a joint service. Let’s get to the point where the only reason we may have more than one building in a community is because of lack of land to build a bigger one, so they are all on the same page, worshipping God. People may have to be redirected to another building in town only due to local fire codes and limits on occupancy. Let’s start now what we’ll spend a lifetime doing in Heaven.
I know this has been a lot to take in. And there are many who will still read this, get mad, and probably will not have reached this point in the blog. To those of you that did, reach out to them. Let’s all work to get on the same page. Let’s all become Christians again. Not denominations. Let’s learn to worship beside our brethren, no matter if their hands are raised and they forgot to use deodorant. Don’t let their loudness bother you. Wear earplugs. Don’t let their quiet hushed tones disturb you, take those earplugs back out. Don’t let their dancing disturb you. Wear steel toe shoes/boots.

Or just worship, and it won’t be a problem!

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