I am a Pharisee. No, really. As I read more and more about Jesus and his adversaries, I realize that I am absolutely, definitely on the wrong side of that divide. As Lent progresses and we approach that dreadful moment in Jerusalem when Jesus is condemned to death, I cringe because I know that my voice would have been one of the loudest, shouting, “Crucify him!”
I love rules. I love logic and precedent and order and structure and hierarchy. I love checklists and perfectly planned occasions. If I could condense my faith into a To-Do list, I would have already done it and crossed that off the same list. I am conservative to my core, and I really don’t like that about myself. In one sense, I’m glad I live in the twenty-first century rather than the first, so I don’t actually find myself opposed to the Jesus movement. But that still makes me wonder how my Pharisaicalism is hurting me today. What battle line is my human nature pushing me to the wrong side of?
All of this comes in response to today’s NT lesson from 1 Corinthians. In 1:20-31, Paul writes about foolishness and wisdom: “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.” I am one of those Jews who demand signs. I am one of those Greeks who demand wisdom. In order for me to give my heart to God, it needs to make sense to me. I need to understand it before I can believe it. But that’s not how faith works. In fact, as Paul points out, that is the complete opposite of faith.
Faith is the state of being out of control. Instead of holding on to what makes sense, we allow God to take over. Instead of demanding that everything line up the way we think it should, we trust God to lead us wherever he will. Each of us is being led in different ways to step away from a life that is lived according to our rules and into a life that God controls. Am I worshipping at the altar of what makes sense to me, or am I standing in awe of something I could never wrap my mind around?