This is the story of a boy. This boy grew up in the world of American Evangelicalism. In fact, he was a boy who was watched all the time, being that his Daddy was a pastor in this movement. This boy learned early that there were certain behaviors that were accepted and others that were not. Biblical or not they must be abided by, or risk being shunned personally and/or risk the ultimate sin of getting your family shunned for your misdeeds.
Also very early into life, this boy learned how “real” Christians vote and it was always Republican…if you differ on this issue, your salvation is literally brought into question (whether in the open or inside the person judging). How could you be saved and vote for (Carter, Clinton, or Obama)?? Other such extra rules like: no saying naughty words, no laughing in church, no asking doubting questions and hearing that people who smoked were going to hell were the norm. These unspoken and unbiblical rules weighed upon this boys mind.
Then, his perfect family was broken by divorce. His mother was treated like the women in Scarlet Letter and his father was abandoned and shunned; denied every being able to enter the role of “Pastor” into the American Evangelical world again. This boy saw this, lived this and held it deep into his heart.
As the boy grew, he felt compelled to live by these rules and display his mastery of them. He moved from the shunning churches where his mother went and entered a new world, hoping for a new chance to live under and in full agreement with the rules of the American Evangelical world. Here he was shocked to be told he wasn’t allowed to play with certain kids because he came from a divorced family and he would more than likely be a bad influence on their children. He saw people saying: “Don’t swear” but a hypocritical gossip chain spread throughout the church. He followed the rules but still found himself on the outside.
People pretending to be righteous and holding tightly to the rules they’ve developed but then falling into sin without a blink of guilt, or Spirit induced conviction.
This is a small snippet of my personal experience with the harsh realities of the New Pharisees. I praise God for healing me from these wounds as well as my whole family and bringing us all closer to His heart through these experiences. I became a New Pharisee to be accepted and loved, not because I was convicted by God to be thus. I reformed my ideals to the church culture around me, not even thinking to see if they were Biblical or not. Then God set me free from being a New Pharisee and I’ve never been the same since!
Jesus despised the Pharisees in his day because they actually drew people AWAY from Christ. I believe the New Pharisees do the same. For a long time, American Evangelicalism points to certain reasons for my generation leaving the church such as: culture, the young people themselves and how immature and wishy washy they are, churches lack of being “relevant” and a host of other things. I think these things do play their role but in typical Adamic fashion, we, the church have blame shifted and not looked in the mirror. Do you think maybe the loss of my generation is a host of stories just like mine where there has not yet been healing from those wounds? I hate to say this and wish it were different but my story is one of thousands upon thousands. Maybe our Pharisaical regulations and our loss of focus on Jesus Himself was the cause of this current generations exodus and rather than bemoaning culture and blaming the younger generations…maybe God is displaying why he despised the Pharisees of old…after all Jesus Himself said that the Pharisees were making people twice the sons of Hell that they themselves were…so why would God keep drawing people to the New Pharisees if he didn’t want them hanging out with the Old Ones?
I believe God is asking us to burn our memberships to the New Pharisee club and begin a fresh new wave, one that is grounded in Intimacy with Him, not a love affair with rules and regulations…maybe, just maybe if we stop adding rules to God’s rule book and spend more time in deeper relationship with Him we may see a Harvest as never before.