I wonder if there were any good Pharisees. I mean, whenever we see Jesus talking with Pharisees, he more often than not rips them a new one. Yeah, there was that time with Nicodemus, that was tense, at best, (maybe I’m forgetting others) but in general, I wonder about Pharisees. The reason I wonder about them is because I seem to work in the midst of them. The longer I am in ministry the more disillusioned I am becoming with the status quo. It hit me the other day: maybe it’s because I work alongside the Pharisees. It’s hard to work alongside folks who need a new one ripped. I wonder how long Jesus would have lasted in full-time ministry. The “brood of vipers” would have been paying his bills. I wonder more each day how possible it is to have a prophetic voice as a full-time minister. I’m just wondering.
We seem to like to focus on Jesus’ words to sinners and tax collectors in our discussions at church, but seldom do we consider that if we are to liken our situation to any in biblical times, we would have to be considered the Pharisees and teachers of the law. The vast majority of folks I work with have been churched all their lives – that’s Pharisee with a capital “P.” So, that got me wondering, were there any “good” Pharisees? If there weren’t, full-time ministry is going to be a really difficult task for any of us. How long with they let us ride with the “brood of vipers” line? How long can our message remain prophetic, without becoming watered down? More and more I feel the role of minister is most closely identified with the prophets. We are to stand against the moors of culture and attempt to offer a clearer picture of God’s intended direction and goal for the world in which we live. We stand as opponents of cynicism and status quo. We know how the story ends and we live to promulgate that and preach that and testify to that.