i (sorta) wanna be a pharisee

When I was in junior high, my lifeline was my church youth group. You see, I was nothing if not a quintessential nerd. (Not much has changed, but my skin feels a lot more comfortable now.) Anyhow, we used to sing a song, the chorus of which I sadly can’t remember. Any junior high staff able to help me? Anyhow, one of the verses went like this:

I don’t wanna be a pharisee

I don’t wanna be a pharisee

‘Cuz a pharisee ain’t fair, ya see

I don’t wanna be a pharisee.

There was also a verse about not wanting to be sadducee (a sadducee is sad-you-see), etc. Ah, the memories I maintain as my gray matter shrinks.

Anyhow, I’ve come to the conclusion recently that there’s a part of me that totally wants to be a pharisee. I’ve often never rarely somewhat regularly desired a very specific list of rules to follow with exact percentages of giving required, specifically the best way to do x, y, or z, what the “right” way to do something is. Yes, astute friends, I’ve wanted the Law. Because somehow in my limited brain I think it’s going to make being faithful easier, that I will always know if I’m doing everything I should to obey, etc. Oh, you say, it’s about my heart? About my character? Even if there are rules? Well, phooey.

A good friend of mine went on a one-month spending fast (which she has now extended to two). I heard about it and was intrigued. Wouldn’t that be a great way to go? Sure, it would be hard, but I sometimes like black and white, so I just wouldn’t have to think about my purchases. I could go hard core, and I’d learn a lot, right? And there’s no doubt I would learn a ton. I’m sure I’d realize where I needlessly spend money, and about the places that I crave control and am selfish. But as I was about to sign myself up I paused. I know myself. I know that the lessons I mentioned above would at least be somewhat negated by the pride I would feel that I was doing it “right”. My bigger struggle, and the one I need to wrestle with, is the willingness to humbly submit myself, and everything I own, to God. To talk with God about my priorities, both spending and otherwise. To ask what He has for me today. To trust that He is faithful to guide, even in finances and other choices.

There are big thoughts afoot in my heart these days. Don’t you have them sometimes, too? They smack of craziness, of surrender…of freedom. When I compare those thoughts to my longings for ritual and rules I am thrilled to say that freedom wins. So I won’t be doing a spending fast in the near future (although I’ve learned to never say never–and I’ll cheer on those doing them!) but I am going to lay the pharisee at the altar and see what’s ahead.


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