I've been reading through the New Testament with my church this year. We read 5 chapters per week and are just starting the book of Luke. I love how you can read certain passages a million times and get a million different things out of them each time...
One of the things that has really been hitting me about Jesus as I've been reading the Gospels is how stinkin' hard he was on those Pharisees. Like he did not mince words with them. He continually told them over and over and over how he hated their "religiosity" and self-righteous attitudes. He seemed to have very little tolerance for them. Jesus spent his time around people who were broken, who were sinful, who were so very aware of their desperate need for a Savior. And he condemned those who were caught up in religion and law and pride. The Pharisees came face-to-face with the same man that the leper and the tax collector and the lowly fishermen came face-to-face with. But because of their righteous pride, they were not able to receive Jesus and all that he had to offer them. They had completely lost sight of the true God in their pursuit of righteousness. It's a sad thing to read about.
But the thing that has been hitting me so hard is this question: which one would I have been? I think about how much I can still get sucked in to religion and rules and self-righteousness...and that's after I already have a knowledge of Jesus and the cross and what He did and said! The Pharisees had only known "law" up until that point, but I don't have that excuse. It's a sickening thing to admit, but I see so much of myself in the Pharisees.
I sat in a room last night full of women who, for the most part, have come face-to-face with their own brokenness. It was an extremely difficult night because the topic was on abuse. And many of these women had stories to share about when they had been abused and raped and how many of them now have children from being raped. They were sharing their struggles and the pain that they still have from those experiences. And I just got to thinking: I have never known that kind of pain. I have never known that kind of brokenness. It was so hard to hear.
But as I was sitting there, I started thinking about how I have honestly led a relatively easy life, in every sense of the word. And while I am so thankful that God has spared me from much pain and difficulty in life, there's another part of me that has a burning desire to somehow come face-to-face with my own brokenness, with my desperate need for grace. I want to be desperate for my Savior. I want to be like the leper and the tax collector.
I was watching a video this week of Nate Larkin...and he said something that hit me to the core. He said: "I created this false self - this "Saint Nate" that I tried to make breathe on its own. I felt bad that Saint Nate can only live at church. Now I know that Jesus never loved Saint Nate, cause He didn't make Saint Nate. He made me. Jesus loves ME. Wants a relationship with Me...
Because of my addiction, I now understand that only God is the center of things. He's actually used my addiction for good. Because of it I've been forced to join the human race and surrender to a power greater than myself...I don't think I ever really met Jesus until I stepped out of my "church persona" and became just another desperate, broken man. That's when He really became real to me." (Powerful video...check it: http://www.iamsecond.com/#/seconds/Nate_Larkin/)
But that's what I want. And it's a scary thing to ask God for that. Because there's no way that coming face-to-face with your own brokenness is going to be an easy thing...but I'm taking a big breath and asking God for it. Because it's only then that I know I will truly be able to meet Jesus and be used by Him and for Him.