Tag: conditions

I Will Not Be Silent—Chasing The Evils Of Conservative Evangelical Christianity Out Of The Shadows

No one who identifies themselves as a “Conservative Evangelical” is evil—no one. For God has fashioned us all in His image, and very few ever pursue the Christian life without the best of intentions and aspirations. We are all good people simply seeking the heart of God.

However, as much as it may be unpopular to express and I do so without any pleasure, so much of conservative right-wing Evangelical Christianity as a system and faith understanding harbors numerous tenets and values that are nothing less than pure evil—anti-Christ and diabolical for sure.

That’s the truth, and with all due respect, you should know it.

In fact, never has there been a more important time to open the blinds, connect the dots, and chase the evils of right-wing conservative Evangelical Christianity out of the shadows—countless lives are in the balance, and much of our future as a people and nation is at stake.

To be sure, conservative Evangelical Christianity can be so seductive to the flesh that even the strongest among us can be brainwashed by its witchcraft—many rendered completely desensitized to the evils in which they participate. That was me, 22 years spent as a right-wing conservative Evangelical pastor.

Yet, one need not look any further than to the callous person one can become and the cruel creeds one can adopt to see the rampant spiritual justification of hate and evil that spews out of significant segments of right-wing conservative Evangelical Christianity.

Perhaps it will serve as a challenge to your comfort zone, a deep offense to your beliefs, or blasphemy to your faith understanding, but I cannot be silent in laying before you the very evils that find their source, sanctuary, and sustenance in much of right-wing conservative Evangelical Christianity.

Stone me, crucify me, defriend me, withdraw your support, or turn your back altogether. Accuse me of painting with too broad a brush or speaking too harshly—I will not and cannot deny the evils I see nor shrink back from chasing them out of the shadows.

God help us all to wake up.

Grace is the Gospel, Not Repentance- Grace is the only power that changes anything—especially people. The good news isn’t that God offers us a gift but we must respond in order to receive it—that’s the conservative Evangelical interpretation of the Gospel and it’s not good news, it’s terrible news. For who knows when one truly believes, repents, and behaves well enough and properly enough for the exchange to truly occur, let alone remain. If it’s up to us in any way, shape, or form, there will always be doubt, fear, and uncertainty waiting eagerly in the wings—all sure fruits of evil.

Rather, the good news is that our unconditional irreversible inclusion in Christ with all its benefits is the gift—there’s nothing to receive only everything to believe. There is no such thing as a “relationship” with Jesus established and maintained by our proper responses to His love—that’s a sure evil construct of religion. Rather, there is only full communion in and with the Trinity, established and secured on our behalf from the foundations of eternity. He is us and in us, we are Him and in Him. Jesus is the message and manifestation of all that we already have and are—whole, saved, righteous, pure, affirmed, without blemish.

Faith is simply awakening and resting fully in this Truth—realizing it’s never been about our performance, always about His. Any repentance and relational aspects of Scripture must be understood, not as admonitions for our required response, but as cues to awaken to the fullness and sufficiency of Grace that is already ours, completely and irrevocably.

Sin Management Promotes More Sin- With all of its “to do” lists and prescriptions to grow spiritually through engaging in certain faith behaviors and commitments, conservative Evangelical Christianity is leading the way at imprisoning people to their sin and brokenness, not freeing them.

With every inspiring message peppered with new principles for living, lists of behaviors, and passionate admonitions to press in and try harder, we have created strung-out spiritual junkies addicted to the lures of the flesh to perform their way out of the sin and brokenness in their lives through some kind of partnership with Jesus. Becoming “successful” for Jesus and overcoming oneself and the trials of life through any kind of personal spiritual performance is the most diabolical trap in all the earth—loading people onto the train of sin-management and behavior modification with the promise to bless and emancipate their lives, only to end up in the gas chambers of the ministry of death—the Law.

At the feet of much of conservative Evangelical Christianity, we have nothing less than a spiritual holocaust in our country where the moral decline is ever increasing all because we have been preaching the cancer not the cure. Pure Grace is the only power of God to handle, manage, and transform brokenness and sin, and the people in which it resides. Any other message, prescription, step, action, or commitment is to extend condemnation and to rape one of the miraculous sin-busting freedom Christ bestows on us through our awakening to Grace. The Christian life is not a test, it’s a rest. Spiritual growth isn’t about becoming tomorrow who you aren’t today through ones spiritual performance, but rather the journey of our actions and attitudes catching up with who we already fully are in Christ—complete, whole, holy, pure, righteous, saved, and lacking no spiritual blessing. This is the foundation of Grace that enables in us and through us all good things, effortlessly—any other foundation is a sinking sand-spiral of death.

Jesus Is The Word, Not the Bible- Sadly, what a pacifier is to a baby, the Bible has become to much of conservative Evangelical Christianity—no wonder why we act so childish at times and elected one as our President. A pacifier is not a meal nor even a source of nourishment, so to it is with the Bible—for Jesus is the only Bread and the only Life offered. A pacifier isn’t the foundation of a child, not even for their growth—for Jesus is the only solid ground and the Bible simply an important catalyst and beginning to encountering Him, the true Word, Life, and Child in us all.

Yet, significant segments of conservative Evangelical Christianity suck on the Bible and their interpretation of it as if Jesus is secondary, or doesn’t exist at all. Nothing tells of their infantile dependency on the Scriptures more than when one pulls it from the clenches of their lips, challenging issues of inerrancy, proof-texting, and their weaponizing of its use. Kicking and screaming, they demand control and find no peace without declaring it infallible along with the exclusive authenticity of their interpretations. For their peace and faith is not in Jesus, it’s on the spiritual pacification their worship of the Bible affords them—forever perpetuating an evil spiritual adolescence. For no greater evils have come upon the earth than from Bible-sucking Christians whose faith is solely founded and directed by their Scriptural understandings, instead of the person, the only Word of God—Jesus, whose mind we possess and whose Life is ours.

The Way of Jesus is Inclusive, Sacrificial, and Nonviolent- With every push and plea for their values and beliefs to be legislated upon society, dominant in the public arena, given priority within our nation, and afforded special protections and privileges, conservative Evangelical Christianity departs from the way of Jesus and embarks upon its own evil imperialistic self-serving path.

The Kingdom of God does not come by way of weapons, demands, intimidation, legislation, or war, but through sacrificial service, nonviolent example, and all inclusive unconditional love—period. When the message of Jesus becomes militarized spiritually, emotionally, or physically, it is no longer the message of Jesus. With every moment conservative Evangelical Christianity fails to truly love its enemies, disagreers, and non-conformers as human beings created with divine dignity, freedom, rights, and value no less than theirs, they partner with the forces of evil to blaspheme the Spirit and twist Jesus into the hood ornament of their evil world bulldozer.   

Carving itself away from those it deems to be inferior through efforts to escape the “world” and retreat into their churches, charter schools, businesses, groups, and clubs gives sure example that much of conservative Evangelical Christianity gives priority not to the ways of Jesus, but to the ways of the religiously pretentious.

Conservative Evangelical Christianity will always be an evil system as long as it continues to fail to produce the fruits of true enemy love, putting others above self, serving those it deems deplorable, welcoming and wanting all people, being in community with all humanity, and choosing the ways of meekness, humility, and sacrifice over power, self-preservation, and greed.

Jesus Equalizes Everyone- For Grace is the great equalizer—none are better, only different. All are loved, all are affirmed, and all are valued and equal in capacity—Jesus makes it so.  Sadly, nearly everything about the conservative Evangelical creed speaks of and fosters privilege, the opposite of His Kingdom—we are the saved, you are the lost; we are the faithful, you are the heathen; we are the blessed, you are the condemned; we are the friends of God, you are the enemy; we are the sole possessors of Biblical understanding and righteous interpretation, you are the sure heretics; we are the faith upon which this nation was founded, you are the people that need to be converted and conquered.

No, it’s not going to be found written in the church bulletin or the carefully crafted mission statement of your local conservative Evangelical Church, but with white painted churches steepled with white crosses as far as the eye can see, Sunday mornings across America can be some of the most segregated hours of the week and a screaming indictment to the true fruits being grown on the vine of significant segments of conservative Evangelical Christianity—division, supremacy, sexism, racism, and classism, all of which, are deeply evil, intended or not.

The Spirit Changes People, Church Imprisons- In the face of a cosmically creative God, conformity is the sure work of evil hoping to thwart the brush strokes of the Divine. For conformity and forced unity kills spiritual growth and imprisons the soul, rendering it nearly incapable of genuine encounter with Jesus and the Spirit who sets us free. Perhaps the most frightening evil subtly being wielded across the planet is the false unity and forced conformity being fostered in many a conservative Evangelical Church where differing beliefs, perspectives, and values are feared and quickly labeled for assimilation or rejection—never community. Diversity is welcomed as far as it does not compete with nor challenge long held beliefs and traditions and people don’t outgrow the walls of the conservative evangelical system of beliefs and behaviors. Where the Spirit changes people and sets them on a path of free exploration, so much of the conservative Evangelical system manifested in churches is set up to conform people into compliance and condemn diversity that contradicts and challenges their spiritual Borg.

Condemnation and Conditions Are Messages of the Devil- Jesus didn’t die to riddle your life with condemnation. Jesus doesn’t love you to fill your heart with conditions. Jesus didn’t create heaven to lose you to the possibility of hell. For any message that declares condemnation from God or places conditions to love, falls drastically short of reflecting God and understanding Him who is Love. Sadly, the most popular talking points being spouted from conservative Evangelical Christianity are “God loves you BUT,” “Turn or burn,” and “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” All, sure messages of conditions and condemnation. For in God’s eyes, there is no such thing as loving the “sinner” because He doesn’t see anyone in that way nor make that label even a true possibility. Instead He calls them “friend,” “saint”, “child,” “blessed” “righteous” and “heirs” in the Kingdom, seeing all people included in Himself as Himself, unconditionally.

A gospel hinging on repentance is no Gospel at all—it’s evil.

A Christian life of sin-management and behavior modification is no life at all—it’s evil.

Worshiping the Bible instead of Jesus isn’t worshiping at all—it’s evil.

Twisting and using Jesus to spiritually justify hate, war, violence, supremacy, nationalism, greed, self-preservation, and power isn’t following Jesus at all—it’s evil.

Extending to the world a kingdom filled with racism, sexism, discrimination, classism, and marginalization isn’t extending the Kingdom of Jesus at all—it’s evil.

Doing church in ways that promote conformity, false unity, and the suppression of spiritual growth, diversity, and differences, isn’t doing church at all—it’s evil.

Mixing Grace with condemnations and mixing Love with conditions isn’t manifesting true Grace or Love at all—it’s evil.

Stone me, crucify me, defriend me, withdraw your support, or turn your back altogether. Accuse me of painting with too broad a brush or speaking too harshly—I will not and cannot deny these evils I see nor shrink back from chasing them out of the shadows.

God help us all to wake up and dismantle deception.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

What Has Your Christianity Done To You?

There’s a diabolical way Eskimos kill wolves. Taking a long knife, they coat the blade with frozen blood, placing it upwards in the snow. The wolf smells the blood, feverishly starts licking. As the blood-sickle numbs the wolf’s tongue, their clueless to the moment the razor-thin edge slits it wide open, shifting the animal to consuming its own blood unaware. Doing so, in a frenzy of oblivious delusion, the wolf literally drinks itself to death. What tastes like it’s yielding life, is actually ending it.

Look in the mirror. There’s blood all over our mouths. Dripping down.

Not just your mouth, but your hands, your feet, you heart, your soul. The outside sees it, smells it. Don’t you? Like rag-shirted zombies that think they are alive, believe they’ve been resurrected. Groaning, moaning, needing someone to devour. The walking dead.

What’s happen to you? What’s happen to us? The people we’ve become.

These words, not trying to be destructive, just trying try be descriptive. This is life and death.

Most Christians don’t even realize what their Christianity has done to them.

Hard to see it, even harder to say it. But, you’ve become a monster.

Not just you, all of us.

Look at ourselves. The heights from which we have fallen.

In the Garden of Eden, it was enough that God is love, you were fully human, created in His image to fully love. It was as simple, complete, and beautiful as that. Nothing to add. The Gospel of the Garden. Life as it’s intended. Everything to enjoy. Freely loved, freely loving. Bliss upon bliss, heaven forever. The ultimate life. An eternal flow of endless loving and being loved, all without limits, without restriction. Seated high, only shadowed by the angels. Imagine the freedom, the release to love expansively. The forever smile that reality painted on our souls.

But then, numb to the scheme, we fell for the Law. We bit the lie that there are conditions. Conditions, limitations, expirations to being loved and to loving. It’s not free, to give or receive, nor is it to be freely given or received. Lies upon lies, licks upon licks, swallowing the evil whole. In so doing, in our condition-believing, we didn’t become more human, we actually became less. Our souls slit wide open. Our hearts bleeding. Our fall from Grace, by falling for the Law. Confusion set in. What felt like distance from the Divine, was all in our minds, not God’s heart. That’s what conditions do, they taste like life, but are sure death. Projecting onto God a reality that is not His, not ours, not anyone. God didn’t go there, we did.

Jesus came to reveal, to lift the veil, to change the mind, to sober the trance. To awaken us to what has always been, that God loves humanity as if the Law never existed. In His heart, the timelessness of eternity, conditions never have. No fine-print, demands, or a distance. From Moses to Jesus, God’s ardent revelation to humanity of the dance-of-death created by the futile pursuits of human performance and God appeasement. It doesn’t work. The diabolical drama of the Law, with all its systems and calculations, is not just undoable, it’s errant. A wrecking ball, a blade in the snow to all that is truly God and life giving. Jesus, revealing God as Law-fulfilled, condition-less. For if the Law, in writing or Spirit, were inerrant there would be no Jesus, the Word, the Way, the Life.

In fact, the only two people in Scripture that Jesus proclaims are people of “great faith,” were both Gentiles, not Law-conscious, condition-believing Jews. One was a Roman and the other a Canaanite. What they had in common wasn’t an off-the-chart spiritual record, it wasn’t some laser-like capacity to point out sin. It wasn’t even church-attendance or ardent-worship awards. Rather, what was intrinsic at their core was that both of them had no awareness of the Law, no sense of a God of conditions, none at all. They shared the untainted, un-seduced clarity of mind and heart to see and believe in God as He truly is. Their “greatness” of faith was in direct correlation to their awareness of the “greatness” of God’s unconditional love. These weren’t conditions to God-relationship that were being pushed aside, overlooked, or covered over. In the framework of their God perspective, there weren’t conditions at all. Jesus sees this, their eyes-wide-open awareness of the true nature and heart of God, and declares, “Now these guys, they get it.”

Later, when Jesus points us to the spearpoint of God’s Old Testament intention, the summation of all that can be summed up, He pleads for one thing, genuine God-love and the loving of our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Don’t be duped by your Christianity. In these words, Jesus isn’t pushing for us to press into the Law, meeting more conditions and expectations, getting more religious and ambitious. Actually, He’s begging you to see the imprisonment that comes with it, and our forever release from it. As if it never existed. That Good is good, and His love endures forever.

For how can you truly love without reservation, believe without inhibition, with complete mind, heart, and soul, in a God of conditions? How can you truly love anyone, in any way, with love-limitations? You can’t. If it’s not unconditional love, it’s not love at all. If it’s not an unconditional God, it’s not God at all. It’s Satan’s slick substitution… religion. That’s what you’re feverishly licking. Drinking death, believing it’s life. You’re not loving God and people, you’re religion-ing God and people, and calling it life in Christ.

Jesus is yearning from the depths of His being for our return to being fully human…

Fully human… awakening to the awareness that you are unconditionally loved by God who is nothing but love.

Fully human… loving humanity without condition, without restraint nor reservation.

Fully human… seeing the goodness, the divine hand in all God has created.

Fully human… embracing our release from the Law is if it never existed.

Why? Because Jesus knows, only then do we have the capacity, the freedom, the genuine desire, the rest within our mind and heart from which to truly see Him and therefore to truly love Him, manifesting that love to ourselves and to others. A rebirth, a new creation, a new species, a return to being fully human.

Free to be loved fully, free to love fully. No brake pumping, no leash pulling, guilt tripping, fear mongering, no if, ands, or buts.

This is heaven come down, to love lavishly as you are lavishly loved. To see no conditions, to give no conditions. No governor on the love accelerator. No chains, no ceiling, no amount that it is “too much.” Grace upon Grace, upon Grace, upon Grace, all the more. More and more love, as far as the eyes, the heart, and the mind can see.

Free at last, free at last, thank God, we are free at last.

God created you to be fully human.

But that’s not what you’ve become, that’s not what your Christianity has done to you. Not to you, not to us.

We’re not fully human, our Christianity has made us into something far less.

We’ve made God into a schizophrenic drunk, storming out of a bar, wrapping His arms of love around you one moment, sending His son to secure the world’s salvation, only to drop-kick countless souls into a hell of eternal torture, while singing choruses of divine justice and holiness, with beer steins raised, as He winks at you with a grin in His eyes. He’s no more than the elf on the shelf, watching, judging, waiting for that opportune moment to push humanity under His thumb and yank us all back from too much happiness. Never knowing when you might push Him too far and dislodge the pin of His wrath-grenade. His love is the warm-up band, the appetizer for the main thing… your repentance, allegiance, rule-keeping, and good behavior. Don’t give Him what He wants, you don’t get what He’s got. The valves are turned off, the supply is sanctioned, and a blockade is formed, welling up to an eternal separation of fiery, skin melting despair.

You don’t need Hollywood to know that anything with more than one head, one heart, one vision is a monster.

This is what we’ve done. All of us.

Turned God into a monster, a two-headed, two hearted, two-visioned monster. A crazed, conflicted god who loves… but.

Sadly, the very image we’ve made of God, is very the person, the very people we’ve become…

Sure, you love people… but. There’s always a “but.” “But” this, “but” that. Your “Sir Mix-A Lot” version of love sings, “I like love with big ‘buts’ and I cannot lie.” Always with a condition, some kind of spiritual fine-print. A loop hole, a way out. Checkpoints here, checkpoints there, gotta make sure it doesn’t go too far, too soon. Grace is dangerous, you just can’t go around giving it to everyone and anyone. Always stopping short of acceptance and affirmation, as if yours are the hands that wield God’s stamp of approval. Your love is labeled, compartmentalized, predicated to those who are willing to subscribe to a terms of agreement. Dished out for free, but with silverware you have to pay for. Your love is not love at all, it’s a monster. And we, the walking dead, devouring whole groups of people… enemies, people with whom we disagree. Races, genders, gay people, transgender people, the rich, the poor. Killing countless with the poison we are pimping as love. Casket, after casket, after casket.

Sure, you have faith… but. There’s always a “but.” You just can’t let go of your addiction to the sound of your own performance. To-do lists, rules to keep, sins to overcome. It’s all so flesh intoxicating. Building your kingdom, your own following, your own story of success. Jesus and you, changing the world. Sounds so spiritual. Trying to line it all up, to fruit-up the vines, all to convince yourself of what you are not; that you are lovable, valuable, qualified, and worthy, as is. Dare I say, forgiven, equal, and whole. Nothing to improve, heal, or reconcile that Jesus hasn’t already. The self-righteousness is bleeding out of your every pore. All your hand raising, money giving, engraved Bible studying, self-promoting, enough is never enough. So much going on with your lips, but your heart, it’s restless. More and more to do, to become, to improve, to achieve, to show. Building your tower to God, calling it faith and faithfulness. Like Mary in the scriptures, making sandwiches Jesus never ordered. To believe is to rest. But on the bed of rest, you will not rest. You got to have some skin in the game, a security blanket of your own weaving. Jesus is not enough. The cross not finishing. His Grace, not sufficient. With every striving and trying, doing and performing, your proclamation of un-faith. Hoping to sign-up the world to chase with you on the this endless treadmill of spiritual, hypocritical exhaustion, praying they won’t see it’s all one big veil to an empty life. Your Christian life is no life at all, it’s a monster. And we, the walking dead, devouring people into this slow death of spiritual futility disguised as faith.

Sure, you have Grace… but. There’s always a “but.” We need to have a balance. It’s just can’t be all good news. God’s not soft, He’s rock-sovereign. Condemnation, sin-deciding, it feels so right, so good, so leather-bound biblical. Bringing another low, putting them in their place. Discipline, confronting, punishment. Positions, platforms from which to look down. The Bible says… the Bible tells me so. Verse quoting, debate engaging, enemy declaring. We gotta speak the truth in love, the proctologist who’s smiling so gently with his truth-finger up your rear end. Playing spiritual doctor, posturing yourself as the divine physician. As if your eyes can x-ray the disease, and you’re skilled enough to cure it, let alone, the one commissioned to do it. It’s all one big game of spiritual hide in seek in compounds with crosses on top. Talking amongst ourselves and judging the world. Spiritually navel gazing as we complain about how bad the world is, with thankfulness for how good we are. The Bible replacing Jesus, words about God trumping the Word of God. It’s all so convenient. Yet, all so irrelevant. The world and Jesus, just wants to spit it all out of their mouths. Your Grace is not Grace at all, it’s a monster. And we, the walking dead, imprisoning the very people Jesus has set free.

No one falls from the Law, you only fall from Grace, the summit of all that is God and all that is good.

Oh, how we have fallen, the decay that has set in.

We’ve swallowed the blade whole, numb to the death we think is life.

You call it a Gospel, but it’s no Gospel at all. It’s the worse news ever. That God loves you… but, that I love you… but.

That’s not heaven, that’s hell.

A two-headed Monster.

That’s what we have become, what our Christianity has done.

Religion creates the illusion you are experiencing and pleasing God when in reality you are hiding from Him and missing His heart.

We, who so boastfully declare to have it, have completely missed it.

They, the world, are not the monsters, the ignorant, the inhumane, the Godless… we are.

Most Christians don’t realize what their Christianity has done to them.

It’s about time we do.

The Pharisees (Law-figures) in Your Life

“They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:2-9 RSV)

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in.” (Matthew 23:13 RSV).

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the Law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” (Matthew 23:23-24)

The Pharisee in Your Proximity, History, or Family Tree

There are likely numerous modern day Pharisees (Law-figures) in your life, right now. They could be your parent, your coworker, your boss, your spouse, your child, your friend, your pastor etc.  They have the same main goal in your life as the Pharisees of the Bible. That is, to have influence and control over you, and to gain your conformity to their expectations. The Pharisees of the Bible have several characteristics that will help you identify the modern day Pharisees in your life right now. Here are some of the characteristics of the Pharisees in your life…

1) They are the ones consumed with expectations, rules (standards), regulations, and their way of doing things, and even more so with making sure you follow them, while not always following them, themselves. They are the law/expectation enforcers of your life; that is, their laws/expectations and ways of doing things. Their love, attention, acceptance, mood, and countenance are conditioned on your meeting of their expectations.

2) They are the ones who love attention and to be the center of it (usually having one of the loudest voices), often looking for people to follow/submit to their legalistic system of being and thinking. As long as you buy into them, are like them, and act and think like them, you are in. You will see them often having a flock of people whose common attribute is their willingness or desire to conform and be accepted by them, or who are simply cut from same clothe sharing the same system of thinking and being.

3) They are gossipers about other people, particularly about negative aspects of people’s lives. They enjoy pointing out people’s faults and shortcomings with a judgmental, grace-less spirit.

4) They are the ones who are always somehow right, love to have the last word, and typically have an answer to everything; often that make you feel ignorant, inferior, or needing their acceptance.

5) They are often hard (stubborn or unaffected) people, often carrying a stern, arrogant, untouchable, or disinterested posture where it seems you are never good enough, right, or worthy or their true respect. If you appear to come into their relational system of conditions, they will give enough softness to keep you interested, but where you do not comply, they will turn up their nose.

6) They are the ones who have a way of triggering your sense of guilt, shame, and condemnation, while being the ones you somehow feel like you need to please and earn their acceptance the most.

7) They are sometimes religious, pious appearing people, who use their beliefs to control and conform people into their system of thinking and being.

Oh Crap, it’s My Mom

O.k., now take a deep breath. You are going to be alright. You have probably already identified some people who fit into a lot of these characteristics. And what is most concerning is who these people are to you.  Chances are there is a family member in there, or a coworker, or a boss, a close friend etc.

Take a moment to continue to make a mental list of who the Pharisees are in your life right now. Why? Because how you are or are not dealing with them is having a dramatic impact on your life and probably the people you love.

Jesus repeatedly warned people of handling the Pharisees in their life with great care and caution, and so should you! He understood their potential, destructive hold on and influence in people’s lives if they weren’t vigilant.

Here are some critical things you should be doing with the Pharisees in your life.

The Big 5

1) Identify them for who they are.  No, don’t label them, but certainly see their behavior and way of relating to you for what it is. Somehow, we often feel obligated to love and even defend the Pharisees in our lives to a fault. This bizarre and twisted irony often leaves us unwilling to see their behavior for what it truly is, evil and destructive.  Furthermore, if it’s YOU that’s the Pharisee. See your behavior for what it is and turn to Grace to heal and give you a new foundation for life, living, and relating to people.

2) Identify the insecurity in you that is attracted to or codependent towards the opinion or expectations of them.

We all have insecurities and areas where we don’t measure up. We all need acceptance, love, and approval. Pharisees or more than willing to present you a way to strive to earn just that and to seemingly remedy the insecurities in your life. That is, to gain THEIR approval, acceptance, and respect.

See, the hard truth is, Pharisees exploit our insecurities and thrive on getting us to need their approval, have our submission, and seek their acceptance. It’s actually their way of justifying and gaining their own acceptance and approval.

Chances are in your family, workplace, or sphere of relationships, there is a Pharisee around which a group of people (maybe even you) seem to gravitate. Why? Because they (and/or you) are trying to gain the approval of a Law figure in their life so that they can feel valuable and worthwhile. Pharisees attract insecure people not because of their Graciousness, but because they present a system of earning ones way into acceptance as the way of healing their deep seeded insecurities. This is attractive to some because it replaces the love they do not have for themselves with a system of performance that makes it seem like they can finally  become secure and whole as a person. It is indeed a kind of family of acceptance they seek with the Pharisee, though founded solely on conditions, performance, and conformity. This relational system is evil, will not heal anything in your life, and will imprison you in the cell of your own insecurities and the never ending and always failing pursuit to heal yourself through a Law figure (Pharisee) in your life.

3) Don’t become like them.  Though the way they relate to you may have bewitched and seduced you into their sphere of control or influence, their system of relating and being ultimately does not work and falls on its face. All Pharisees are hypocrites as they can never meet the expectation themselves that they have and hold over others. Furthermore, their philosophy of influence with people and solving the deep problems in people ‘s lives only serve to put a bandaid on an ever cracking and leaking damn. They imprison the people they think they are somehow freeing by shackling them to the same religious, legalistic, guilt-motivated system that has imprisoned them. Indeed, miserly loves company. Trust Grace to be your supply and your solution. Trust it to work with people in all circumstances and situation. There is never a moment where Grace is not the right answer or response. Likewise, there is never a moment where the tenants and tactics of the Pharisees ever work, bring life, or the wholeness and security you seek.

4) Extend Grace without excusing their behaviors. If anyone needs Grace, it’s Pharisees. Unfortunately and often, the more you extend it, the more they reject it. Give it anyways, even if just to frustrate them. But don’t excuse their behaviors. Rather, confront them when necessary with confidence and calmness.  If you need to keep your distance, do so. Yet, always be willing to come to the table of reconciliation. Grace can change anyone, even the most sold-out Pharisee.

5) Turn to the Grace figures in your life beginning with Grace Himself… Jesus  What you are seeking or think you are getting in the Law figure(s) (Pharisee) in your life is what you can truly only get through the Grace-figure, Jesus. In fact, He is not just a figure of Grace, He is Grace.

Allow him to be your security, your justification, your acceptance, your approval, your worth, your value, your identity. Surround yourself with Grace-figures in your life. People who love you unconditionally, promote your freedom not control, stand with you, and have your best interests at heart. People who speak well of others, who give the benefit of the doubt, who forgive easily, and who lift up who you are, not who you aren’t.

 

Giving Grace to Difficult People

I find in Jesus, the perfect model for being a person of Grace. In fact, He is not just a person of Grace, He is Grace.

I think, for most of us, we want to be loving and extend Grace. Yet, when it comes to certain types of people and behaviors, we get frustrated. How do I give Grace to that person who drives me up the wall? What about the person who wrongs me over and over again? Does giving Grace mean I become a doormat for Jesus, devoid of having boundaries, never saying “no,” or creating space from certain types of people.

These are difficult and important questions that everybody wrestles with.  Hopefully this post can shed some practical insight on how to extend Grace to difficult people.

o.o1 – At times we are the difficult person-  The very Grace that we are having difficulty in giving or are not sure we should even give in the first place, is the very same Grace we need to be given. Chances are, right now, there is a person who is trying to figure out what it looks like to give Grace to you. The very issues you are wrestling with in giving Grace to difficult people may just be the same kind of issues someone is wrestling with in giving Grace to you. Those who truly know their deep, forever need of Grace are the ones most willing to extend Grace to others.

0.02- Grace is unconditional- We live in a deeply conditional world. You do this, I do that. If you do this, I’ll do that. You change, I will change. You take the first step, I’ll take the next. You say “sorry,” I’ll forgive. You change your behavior, I’ll draw closer. This is why Grace is so difficult and revolutionary. It goes against so many of our relational impulses. For many, Grace is blasphemous, offensive, and unrealistic.  You expect me to do what? Grace is unconditional. There is no condition for which it cannot and should not be extended in some form or another. There is never a moment where Grace is not the best response. In fact, the only times when Jesus was recorded specifically in the Bible as being angry, His anger was directed exclusively at people who withheld Grace from others. You want to know what angers Jesus? Sin? Nope… withholding Grace! Apparently, that’s worse than sin itself.

0.03 Grace protects your being- Grace enables you to give to the ungiveable, love the unlovable, and forgive the unforgivable without loosing yourself. Grace is not the absence of being hurt, offended, or used, it is your divine capability to give Grace non-the-less.  Ironically, it is in the withholding of Grace that offense, hurt, and being used are given life and power to stain and erode within you. Giving Grace disarms all offense. It is not denying nor pretending their is not a problem. Rather, it is the sure solution to the effect of the problem on and within you, and the only potential solution to the problem with or within the other person.

Grace costs you nothing to give because it is supplied by your Father, you cannot out-give the supply. It is what shelters you, protects you, and guards you in all your relationships. It is what keeps you from becoming the very person you are having difficulty trying to deal with.

Conditional love, however, lowers your shields to the hurts of others and gives them harbor and perpetual life within you. Conditional love grows the disappointment, resentment, and bitterness that comes from unmet expectations. Grace does not always say, “yes.” but refuses to say “never.” Grace is not the absence of boundaries, but an understanding that most boundaries that constrict the flow of Grace are not boundaries but a barrier.

The true danger in your relationships is not in the giving of Grace, but in the withholding of it. Withholding changes nothing and erodes most everything. Grace changes everything and erodes nothing. It is this irrational, indiscriminate compassion that is called Grace. It defies everything we have learned and believe works in a conditional world.

0.04 Grace confronts religious pride and injustice- There is a purpose in giving Grace to difficult people (of which we all are difficult at times). It is to heal, restore, and reconcile. Some difficult people are difficult because of their pride and/or behaviors of injustice. Ironically, Jesus confronted these types of folks very sternly, and yet gave great compassion, patience, and understanding to broken, sinful people.

What do people of pride and injustice have in common? Their refusal to be people of Grace, receiving it and giving it. They take away, when giving is what should be done. They punish when correction will do. They hold out rules and regulations when freedom and encouragement is what would gain the influence. They pretend they have it all together, when they don’t. They condemn, judge, and sow seeds of guilt and shame into people’s lives.

Yet, Jesus was and is Gracious to these folks nonetheless. They very fact that He didn’t go any further than giving them harsh comments of confrontation, stopping short of drop kicking them into hell, shows His abundant Grace. Sometimes, the deepest expression of Grace to these kinds of difficult people is in what we stop short of doing and saying. Walking away, kicking the sand of your feet can be a deep expression of Grace.

See, Grace is most attracted to people who know deep down they need it. Jesus spends most of His time making sure the broken, humbled, and hurt receive it instead of trying to convince the proud and unjust to receive it and give it.

With some people, the more you give Grace, the harder their spine stiffens. The more you try to confront their pride and injustice, they more they dig their heals into the ground. What should we do? Give Grace anyways, and still confront when necessary. Yet, spend more of your time extending Grace to people who aren’t hell bent on living against it in their lives and in the lives of others.

0.05 Grace does not invite sure physical danger- Giving Grace to difficult people doesn’t mean that if you are physically abused or are in a physically abusive relationship, you should just take it.  It’s one thing to give Grace knowing that you might be endangering yourself physically as Amy and I did in adopting two of our daughters from China. The plane could have crashed, we could have been hurt traveling in sketchy parts of China etc. But, to invite sure physical (or even emotional) danger to you or those you love in the name of Grace is likely unwise. You can still give Grace to difficult people while creating necessary physical and/or emotional space. A good rule of thumb is, if in giving Grace you put yourself in a circumstance that will certainly damage you ability to give it because of the presence or level of physical or emotional harm, than chances are, you need to create some distance that allows you to give Grace, but not be harmed or have harm brought to the ones you love in the process. The stronger you are in your sense of identity in Christ, the more you will be able to give Grace to emotionally toxic people without losing yourself in the process. It is Grace that grows this strong sense of identity in Christ in you.

0.06 Grace receives from God and gives to people-  With God, it is better to receive than to give. But, with people, it is better to give than to receive. Spend your time allowing God to be the supply of comfort, security, value, worth, applause, happiness, meaning, courage, etc. in your life. He is the One who can meet these needs completely and consistently.  With God, spend much more of your time receiving the needs in your life than trying to give to Him.

Yet, with people, spend much more time giving to them from your well of Grace, instead of turning to them to be your supply. When we turn to others to receive, we create a level of “expectation” into the relationship. When we turn to people to give, we create a level of “uncondition” into the relationship. It is impossible to to give Grace and yet have connected expectations in return. If Grace is not given unconditionally, it is not Grace.

Difficult people, in some ways, become much less difficult when we aren’t trying to change them or get them to meet some relational expectation. Rather, we are simply trying to give Grace, and in doing so, we bring to the table the very thing that actually changes everything. When we stop trying to change and get certain things from people, we actually can bring to bare the one thing that can change people and behaviors… Grace.

© 2017 Chris Kratzer

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