Of late the common Lectionary has been following the stories of Jesus’ confrontation with the Pharisees found in Luke’s Gospel. The one today is from Luke 11: 47-54 where Jesus is really lambasting them. When we read these accounts, we get a picture of a not so nice Jesus, a picture of one who did not fear confronting people. This confrontational Jesus only comes out when he is confronted with self righteous religious types. The Pharisees were a group of lay people, very devoted to the letter of the religious law. They were the “church police,” or “liturgical police” of their day. It is only to such as these that we see Jesus getting very upset. And it is these very upstanding religious folk who sought to kill him.
What can this say to us?
Sometimes the “church police” are in our heads. Do you often find yourself berating your own self for this or that transgression? Some of us live with a perfectionism that is so deep-rooted that it paralyzes us and weighs us down. Ironically then we look for relief in the very things which make us feel guilty in the first place. Guilt has its place. It can be very motivating and sometimes we need this motivation in order to change for the better. However, when guilt becomes the norm it becomes paralyzing.
Jesus confronted the church police of his day. Sometimes we have to confront the church police in our own mind – to step outside the negative tug of this incessant judge and be born into a way of thinking and living that lifts us up.