Hello, my name is Kara, I’m a recovering Pharisee, and my life is unmanageable.
For as long as I can remember I essentially had one desire for my life: perfection. I had a very clear idea of how the “perfect” me should act, speak, look, dress, talk and walk, and how my “perfect” world (and those in it) should be. I thought, in my attempts to be a very good girl, that if I never broke a rule, never made a mistake and did everything that God required of me, that God in return would do everything I required of Him.
But I was shocked and utterly dismayed when it all went down entirely the opposite way. While I watched God bless so many other “sinners” around me, it seemed that tragedy after tragedy was striking my life: after losing a brother, my father, and our home to a hurricane, the rest of my family (as well as my internal world) began to spin out of control. This was not the life I had bargained for, and it seemed God was not keeping His end of the deal.
Did I not try hard enough? Had I not jumped high enough? Did I not perform well enough? What was the problem? The words from Luke’s Prodigal Son rang bitterly in my ears: “All these years I have slaved for you and never once disobeyed any of your orders, yet you never offered me so much as a kid for me to celebrate with my friends” (Luke 15:29). It didn’t seem fair.
Yet my heavenly Father in His mercy, through those very tragedies and painful times, took me to the place I had tried so hard to avoid for so many years, the place I least wanted to go: the place of my own great inner poverty. Where I was broken, frail, weak, sinful, needy, and could not even breathe one breath without Him. Far from perfection, and now incapable of even any attempts at it, my only hope was in His goodness and mercy. There was my treasure.
Living in the Western world where image is everything, money is power, and beauty is adored, it’s hard not to have an inner Pharisee in each of us, striving to be independent, self-sufficient, wanting to be the perfect Christian who gets it all “right.” Yet Scripture tells us “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven,” (Matthew 5:3).
Christ is clearly a lover of the poor, but who are the poor ones? Not just the beggar on the street but the beggar within us: the parts of ourselves and our lives that are empty, needy, hungry, ashamed, addicted, broken; the parts we cannot manage or control or change on our own accord. The question is: will we let that be okay? Will we accept that we are poor? Will we embrace the great frailty and broken humanity within ourselves and those around us?
We are all equal at the foot of the cross. There’s only one Savior. But thank God He has saved us, for with His salvation the yoke is easy and the burden is light! In Christ we can begin to know we are loved as we are, where we are, for who we are, and the voice of that Pharisee within us will be silenced by amazing grace.
Copyright 2015 Kara Klein.
Photo: “Cross” by cbcs (2014) via Morguefile.com.