What To Do About Legalists, Fundies, and Pharisees

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freewingthefree asked a question:

Hey pastor! Question. How should we react to all the hurt that gets caused by Christians more focused on being “right” and legalistic? It makes my heart ache to see all those who have been hurt by legalistic Christians who are oblivious to the pain they cause.

Hey dear friend, I’m hurting along with you. It grieves me to see self-righteous brothers and sisters who claim the name of Christ and continue to morally suffocate others into a neurotic, twitchy, self-condemning mess. I’ve been a victim of it, and it still hurts.

Here’s the thing. I don’t want to make excuses for the overly religious Pharisee: but I also can’t demonize them either. They need grace, too. I think the church fluctuates wildly between uptight, legalistic Bible-thumper to laidback, relevant, smoothly spiritual hipster, and while both sides sneer at each other, there are hurting people caught in the crossfire. Hyper-grace is no better than hyper-law. A knee-jerk reaction to one type of religion will only imprison us further.

Hating on the Westboro folks or fundie televangelists is easy mode. Anyone can do that. It’s easy to say “I’m not like those other Christians.” What’s hard is transcending such pigeon-holed categories like Jesus did, who extended his hands on a cross for both the running prodigal and the angry preacher. What’s hard is reaching across every divide, from pimps and politicians to aristocrats and blind beggars. What’s hard is not perpetuating the cycle of hurt that you’ve been plunged into, and instead looking forward and above.

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