When Did We Become Ok With Being The Pharisees?

In recent days we have all seen and heard that Target has made a choice to allow those who identify as Transgender to use the restroom of the gender they most identify with. As a Christian I understand and identify with the biblical view of the argument. I do not, however, identify with the hatred or anger that I’ve grown to see among so many professing Christians (and non-Christians alike).

You are probably wondering what this has to do with the Pharisees and why I am choosing to write about this. So let’s explore the Pharisees for a moment.

As we read through the New Testament we see that the Pharisees often did and said things that were religious, but often were out of hate so they could continue ruling and living in their own way. As Jesus enters the scene of scripture, we see something vastly different. We see a man that chooses to love those who have made choices that the religious elite disagree with, that Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit disagree with. Yet, Jesus won these over not through hate or brash remarks. No. He won them over in love.

In the past I have seen, and said something almost identical to that above: “Jesus wins because of love” and I’ve been told that it is more complicated than that. So I ask, is anger or hate – or hate crimes as I have seen professing Christians threaten on social media – an acceptable response to this issue? Based on scripture, no it is not.

Yesterday as I spent time reading the Word I read:

“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be friends with the world makes himself an enemy of God”
(James 4:4).

Two things happened immediately after I read this verse. The first, was conviction. I was convicted by my lack of seeking God on this matter. I began asking Him what a biblical response to all of this would look like. The second, was realizing that hate and anger are equivocal to friendship with the world (just as much as complete and total acceptance of the issue).

The answer I feel like I received is not going to be one you may like (especially if you are currently in the boycott group). I feel like He kept bringing me back to the same thought over and over: “remember those I loved. Have I not loved you in you? Think of those I chose to love when others hated.” The other big thought He kept bringing me back to was, “you cannot choose who I adopt.”

I went back to scripture on the prodigal son, the woman at the well, the many who were demon possessed and healed … I kept going back to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) and “love does no wrong* to a neighbor; therefore love is fulfilling the law” (Romans 13:10). I kept thinking of the way Jesus chose to love and even went out of His way to encounter and love those that did not fit the Jewish mold. The story of the good samaritan was a story on loving others that are outside our culture and in need. Jesus went out of His way to speak to the samaritan woman at the well. This was counter cultural for Jewish people at the time. It was looked down upon and risque even.

The way Jesus loved is part of what angered the pharisees. As I watch the hate flood through Facebook I’ve decided not to be part of that. I’ve asked God for His guidance and the more of that I ask for, the more compassion I feel for a new culture of people. A culture that professing Christians are refusing to love. A culture professing Christians are literally saying they would beat people up and following it up with “it’s not hate, it’s respect.”

A dear friend of mine a few years ago said something so profound, and I’m not sure he or I realized its depth at the time. He said, “we’ve grown up being told we can do or be anything we have put our minds to. It is the American way. We’ve never had to wonder if we could get married if we could love someone. We’ve always been taught we can do both.” As a nation we have been taught we can do anything we want. We are Americans. There is no doubt that you can be pulled out of poverty. No doubt that you can own your own business, go to college, have as many children as you want, etc.

Yet there are now groups of individuals being told they cannot and will not receive service in certain businesses (particularly small businesses) under the guise of “rights”. There are a groups of indidviduals that are being publically told they will be beaten up for using bathrooms in public places under the guise of “protection and safety”.

When Jesus approached a group of men wielding rocks and large stones and looked through the crowd He saw a man and a woman accused of adultery. His response was not “right on, stone them for their sin”. No. NO. His response was “let him who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7).

Jesus’ ministry focuses on the individual, not the group. Yet somewhere along the way we have missed that. We look at a group of individuals and say “HOW COULD YOU?” but we forget that group is made up of individual people. We forget we are part of a group of individuals. We forget that the group we are attempting to cast stones at can see our faces. They know we profess Jesus. This is why they do not want to be Christian, because Christian looks like nothing more than hate to them.

When we stop hating and we start loving, when we stop trying to cast stones at every person that doesn’t look like us or talk like us or think like us and we start looking at how to love them… when we do that, that is when we will see the world change. That is when we will see a break through. That is when we will realize God adopted us to be His sons and daughters; not the other way around.

When we are adopted we do not get to chose who else gets adopted. To professing Christians I ask, if there were transgender people in your church or if there were anyone from the LGBTQA community in your church would you love them? Would you welcome them? Would  you treat them with the same amount of respect and kindness as you anyone else? Does God’s word not address this very thing?

But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:9)

If less people were yelling and threatening and more people were pouring the love of Christ into the LGBTQA community, would there not be a drastic change in our society? Would there not be a drastic change in the way Christianity was viewed?

I pray for you, Christian reading this who is angry with me at my comments, for your blood to stop boiling and the Father to bring you back to His word.

I pray for you, Christian reading this who is struggling with how to respond to recent matters, to seek God’s word and ask for His guidance. For God to take you deep into His word and reveal His truth and His love and push you to do the same for others.

Finally for you, LGBTQA community member I pray for healing on your heart. That the hatred and anger that has been shown to you be restored by the only one who can do that, Jesus. That He open your heart to Christians who love like Jesus and live like Jesus and show you the hope that abides in Him.

When we love like Jesus and live like Jesus, the whole world will change. But until then, we will see nothing but hate and anger…

* emphasis added by
** all links attached to verses are the entire chapter to maintain context of scripture

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