Caterpillar to Butterfly: Developing “Pharisees” – TO – Developing Disciples
From Caterpillar to Cocoon to Butterfly – Part XIV
In this series we have been asking the question, “What happens with metamorphosis during the cocoon stage?” How, structurally, do you get a butterfly from what once was a caterpillar? In my Aug. 20, 2011’s blog, I listed several forms of transformation that I see occurring inside the cocoon of change for the church. Today we will look at the principle: Develops “Pharisees” (caterpillar) TO Develops Disciples (butterfly).
Caterpillar: I must confess: “I am a recovering Pharisee!” I truly believe that the longer you are in a religious system, you can’t help but become a Pharisee of that system. A Pharisee is one who becomes a zealot of their religious faith, who does “everything right” according to their religious code, and takes their religion seriously, effecting every area of their life. I grew up as a church kid, active in the church youth group, went to a church sponsored college, and have been active in many different ministries in my life. Jesus’ most severe criticisms were directed to the “church” people of is day, the Pharisees, comparing them to infected yeast. (See earlier blogs) Pharisees fervently supports a religious system. They appear squeaky clean; Jesus called them “white washed tombs”.
Butterfly: Jesus chose twelve uneducated men from different secular trades to train and develop into what would be the foundation of his kingdom. For three years he built a relationship with them, training them, nurturing them, instructing them, and revealing His Father to them. They become known as his disciples, his followers. Every good rabbi had a following of disciples. Amazingly, when push came to shove, with Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, they fled with Peter actually denying that he knew him. After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, He sent His Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and the Holy Spirit transformed 12 disciples into apostles who would “see over” what the Holy Spirit was about to do. After the four gospels, the next book is the “Acts of the Apostles”, recording the actions of the apostles as they followed the leading of the Holy Spirit. This would be the pattern of this newly birthed church built on relationships vertically with the Father, through Jesus Christ, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, and horizontally among the believers of Jesus Christ, the Church.
The Differences: Again, the difference between the two is established in where one’s loyalty lies: in an institution or in relationships with others. Pharisees are zealots about what they believe, think, and do. They are driven to follow the law or code of their group to achieve acceptance of advancement. Saul, the Pharisee of Pharisees, had followed every Jewish code possible and even lead the zealous crusade to rid Judaism of this new “sect”. That would all change when he literally gets knocked of his horse, and meets Jesus. With that relationship, his life is changed, and the rest of his life is now dedicated to his vertical relationship with God and his horizontal relationship with the other believers in Jesus.
Implications Today: How did I know when I became a Pharisee? When I became defensive, justifying my every action and belief. I always believed my way of thinking was the correct way. When the Holy Spirit brought it to my attention, my first defensive response was, “prove it to me.” We care not to admit it, but today’s church is filled with Pharisees who follow their church codes to a tee and are zealous for what they believe. Listen to Christian radio some time, and you will hear dozens of different preachers all preaching their own doctrine, some times the opposite of one another. Pharisees nurture division just by their words, attitudes, and actions. The Church will never be united, one body, as long as the Pharisees get their way.
Conclusion: Where is your loyalty: to the religious institution to which you belong or to relationships with the priesthood of believers? Pharisees always line up with their institution’s guidelines and code of conduct, yet they were the targets of Jesus’ most severe criticisms. He attacked their mindsets and established traditions calling them “traditions of man.” On the other hand, the priesthood of believers is all about equality of position and influence, linear, horizontal relationships where one believer has to “lay down his life for his brethren”, another believer. Pharisees never lay down anything, only defend what they are holding on to! Are we willing to lay down our traditions, our past, and our very lives, those things we hold on to, at the altar, at the feet of Jesus, before our very brethren for the sake of relationships that the Lord wants to establish in our individual lives and corporately as a priesthood?