Recovering Pharisee-Step 12

Notes from the book,
“12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me)”, by John Fischer

 Step 12:  We, having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, try to carry this message to others who think that Christians are better than everyone else.

     “Be perfect and everyone will want to be like us,” or so we thought. To a certain extent, this impression is a witnessing strategy gone awry.  This perpetuation of a high and holy example at any cost—even the cost of honesty—has become our cherished witness in the world and one of our biggest mistakes.  Actually, most non-Christians couldn’t care less whether we do or don’t do what they do.  They will make a deal about it only because we make a deal about it, and they like catching us in our own traps. 

     What we think is witnessing is not witnessing at all.  It’s what the advertising world calls brandingBranding is what identities a product or a service and sets it apart in an easily recognizable manner.  True witnessing is nothing more than telling somebody about Jesus.  One is an image, the other is a message.  One is conjured up, the other is simply shared.  The Gospel is just what it is:  good news for sinners.  The only people who should be offended by it are people who can’t admit their sin.   When we perpetuate this high and holy model of leadership and Christian life, we’re just too high up to relate to anyone but ourselves.  1 Cor 6:9-11; 2 Cor 3:1-6; Jer 31:3; John 1:11-13

     Our greatest witness to the world is to show and tell how much we need Jesus (not how much they need Jesus).  If we were perfect we wouldn’t need Jesus.  When anyone gets close to us, they should discover our secret.  We are just like anyone else, but for Christ.  Many Christians believe the real work of facing sin and forgiveness is something to be done in private so that we can present to the world, not the process, but the finished product… when all along the world probably would just as likely respond to an average guy.

     Being saved is better than being better.  Somehow, we’ve got to get the spotlight off pharisaical self-righteousness and back on the gospel.  John 12:32; Jer 31:3;

Recovering Pharisee-Step 11

Notes from the book,
“12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me)”, by John Fischer

 Step 11: We choose to rid ourselves of any attitude that is not bathed in gratitude.

     The giving of thanks is the only logical response one can have to a forgiveness and a holiness that are totally undeserved.  Thankfulness is so tied to grace that the absence of gratitude in a Christian’s life is an indication that legalism still rules the day. Gifts are contrary to the pharisaical spirit, which trusts only in what has been earned.  It means that the person who receives must become vulnerable to the Giver.  Even our reward at the end of the journey will come as a thankful surprise, because we will have become so well acquainted with our sins and shortcomings along the way that we will not be expecting it.    Heb 11: 1-2, 32-40; Psa 30:11-12

     For the Pharisees who have earned their own right standing, there is no one to thank—no one, of course, but themselves.  One is thankful only for that which one does not deserve.  No one craves more when he is grateful for what he has.  Thankfulness conquers selfish ambition.  For this reason, giving thanks is one of the most valuable tools a recovering Pharisee has in fighting pharisaical attitudes.  You are simply glad to be counted among the saved.      Jam 3:16; Phil 4:11; 1 Thes 5:18; 1 Tim 1:12

     You don’t have to protect your image when you are already number one with God.   You don’t have to hide your sin when you have received God’s forgiveness.  You don’t have to be full of yourself when you are thankful that God has filled you up with Himself.  [Even when others prosper from your spiritual efforts] … I start by being thankful that the message has gone out and has helped so many people.   1 Cor 3:6; Phil 1:15-19; Eph 1:3-7; 3:1-9

Recovering Pharisee-Step 10

Notes from the book,
“12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me)”, by John Fischer

 Step 10:  We embrace the state of astonishment as a permanent and glorious reality.

     The only way to save a Pharisee is to break a Pharisee’s back with the burden of law.  There was, and is, hope for the Pharisee, and that hope comes in the form of failure.  Failure is the doorway to freedom.  It is realizing that the true demands of righteousness are beyond reach.  In other words, righteousness can only come via the Spirit of God and only to forgiven sinners who have claimed total spiritual bankruptcy. It is only the spiritually bankrupt, the sorrowful, the humble, and the unrighteous who get the blessing.   Jam 2:10; Gal 3:10; Matt 5:3-6

     That’s what the law was for in the first place, to show us up for who we really are.  I was the poor, sad sinner Jesus was talking about, and that could mean only one thing: I was blessed.  My loss was my gain.  This is when the surprise hits, and it is completely paradoxical to the way we have though and operated all or lives.  We give up and we get it.  We lose and we win.  Suddenly we realize that the Sermon on the Mount was all about us.  Matt 5;   Gal 3:24

     From childhood on, we have always earned our place in life.  We have learned that good performances are rewarded and poor performances are punished.  All false gospels are based on works because that’s what we’re after.  The gift of salvation is simply too preposterous for our imagination.  Even if you wanted to contribute to your righteousness, you couldn’t.  Anything more than this is arrogance.  Pharisees think they deserve their place in the spiritual hierarchy.  Recovering Pharisees can’t believe they even get a place at all.  For all practical purposes this shouldn’t be happening.  Treasures are never put in such common containers.    But their usefulness is not in their beauty, but in what they carry.  There is nothing in us that would indicate why God would choose us over any other vessel.  We can only be amazed as anyone.  Rom 9; 10:4; 2 Cor 4:7; 2 Tim 2:20-21;

     Astonishment comes from being surprised.  Unfortunately, those who are counting on their own righteousness are missing out on the surprise.  If anything, their surprise will come in not having their works accepted.  Our degree of astonishment is related to our personal knowledge of sin.  If I do not continue to face the sin in my life, I am not likely to be very impressed with my salvation.  Our worship is in the form of astonishment.  What could I possibly have done to deserve this?    Psa 8; Ezek 16:1-15; Eph 2:8-9; Matt 7:21-23