To: Mr./Mrs. Pharisee
Oh stop, you know who this is. The time has come.
I’ll cut to the chase, then I’ll explain… everything.
Well, joyfully, this is goodbye. In “the industry” (which I’m not in) this is known as The End.
FYI: I am not your judge. I have no judgment in me toward you (any more).
But I do know how to objectively assess, without emotion.
Hold onto that, please. You’ll need to remember it often as I get going (because it’s going to feel like judgment – then you’ll understand where I and so many others are coming from).
What I’m about to share with you will likely come as a shock. I understand completely. Be patient please, we’ll get there.
At 20 years old, I fell in love with Jesus (the Christ, not the Latino). He swept me off my cocky, inexperienced feet. For he and I, it was truly a match made in Heaven. I was smitten, just ask my wife… she almost got jealous.
Shortly after that, I met you. That’s when it began. I didn’t even know you were a thing at that time (Pharisees, that is). I had no clue what was going on. I’m sure that’s what caused so much of the anger that was to become a significant battle for me in the following years.
See, I have finally come to the point that I am now able to choose to believe you were not trying to hurt me or mislead me intentionally. And if you were, it makes no difference.
This allows me to reclaim from you the power I gave you to influence my mind & emotions. And to be clear, it’s not just me. You have hurt many.
(Don’t forget, I am not casting judgment, only offering objective observation as well as I can)
I didn’t know it then, but I allowed myself (unwittingly because I swallowed it all whole) to be led by your self-righteous religious arrogance.
Now, this is not “who you are”, per se (picture me doing air quotes). It’s a disease you carry, as well as I, that’s kind of like herpes (don’t worry, it’s simplex 1… you know, cold sores… fever blisters? Not the “naughty” kind.) Don’t those things come to the party at the worst times ever?!
“Oh, you’re speaking in public this week? Oh, you have a date? Oh, the biggest business meeting of your life is soon?” BAM! Monstrously infected mucous membranes on display in the middle of your FACE. Oozing white and yellow… then the scab! Man, it’s the worst… so I’ve heard.
In all seriousness, this disease of ego, your I-know-THE-truth-and-all-others-have-errors-in-their-opinions attitude is keeping people from coming around you and your church. But you blame them for not coming?? You may want to check yourself for blind spots.
I’m going to leave the hypocrisy alone, since I also share this with you, to a degree. However, and I may be biased, but I contend yours is fashioned out of your arrogance and the rest of us are simply human (naturally exhibiting hypocrisy from time to time) and aren’t 100% consistent, even with our own beliefs at times… I’ll leave it alone. That’s between your Father and you, whomever he happens to be for you.
Quick example, to show I’m not being unfair or holding a double-standard –
Let’s say you drink (pick another shoe if this one doesn’t fit –please, I’m truly trying to help).
So, you drink, a lot. Not binge or frat party bong a lot, but frequently. As in, you have a problem. Modern medicine calls it being “an alcoholic”. Look, tell yourself whatever story you need to so your anxiety doesn’t rage. My point is you have some issue, don’t you?
E.g. rage; unforgiving of your sister, brother; racist; Netflix-addicted; Obese by choice-you keep eating garbage & too much of it?
Okay, I’m not trying to hurt you or even, believe it or not, offend you.
Remember the prophets of old? They often took very difficult, personal messages to people that could kill them, like KINGS & QUEENS, and evil ones! Well, I don’t presume to be a prophet necessarily, but that’s the analogy that popped in my head. Plus, that would make you the King or Queen, not bad.
I’m trying to show you something I believe God wants me to show you. I am not concerned about your response, necessarily, only the people that cross your path… and of course your relationship with Jesus and those that he loves to death.
C’mon, did you miss my satire? Have you forgotten the attitude he equipped me with? We’re still working on it but man, we’ve come far together, he & I. That’s also why it’s taken so long for me to be able to write this Goodbye letter.
I wanted to verbally rake you over the coals for years. Talk about hypocrisy, right? I talk about the love of Jesus and how much I care then I reveal that was in my mind for years! Terrible.
But! I have no problem opening the vault to my faults, shining the Bat light in there and letting the world look.
You know why?
I don’t pretend.
And while I love you and pray for you… you pretend.
Back to our “Quick Example”. (I bet you wondering if I had a point)
Recap: You drink. Okay, but the problem, other than your liver, is that you get on other peoples’ case about “drinking is a sin”. C’mon… be honest. It’s true, isn’t?
(I know, you’re screaming at your screen right now, “But it IS a sin!”, as you sip yours back. This is not a discourse on the spiritual nature of consuming alcohol, so tone it down, relax, everything’s okay.)
The best church sign (and most totally suck) I’ve ever seen said, “Don’t judge others just because they sin differently than you.” Wow, beautiful. Good job, Church of the Nazarene.
“Don’t judge others just because they sin differently than you.”
We’re not talking human inconsistency. We’re talking a twisted heart, at least in certain ways.
You judge people through social media by telling them what’s right about that God-comment they made as well as clearly stating what their error is. You literally critique comments, like a grammar professor. You do this for theological accuracy, and again, as though you are the authority. But your personal paradigm, not the Word of God aka Jesus, is the master template by which you grade them. This is terribly misguided.
And that’s just Betty from Bingo! Imagine the heart projected toward those outside your circle. Holy crap.
Have you never considered why your certainty is certain and why their certainty is mistaken?
Let me repeat that (I’ve been waiting years to ask you that) –
Why is YOUR certainty correct but THEIR certainty is mistaken?
What say you?
You’ve done this one for years and years. You speak with the wisdom of Yoda and the cunning of the White Witch of Narnia (that’s a Hollywood Christian reference for you. I heard you LOVE Kirk Cameron & now, Kanye; I know, me too).
Jesus called them “white-washed tombs”. Pharisees, that is.
Outside = beauty. Inside = yikes.
We’re gonna begin our descent now. (Flight descent: provides hope and excitement that the trip is nearly over but much antsy discomfort remains before you get to pee in a toilet that’s not in a closet)
If you fly, you know that just means another 20 minutes of sweaty palms, ridiculous facial expressions as you unsuccessfully yawn to clear your ears, and physical contact with the love handle of the person next to you in coach who probably should’ve paid for two seats, just to be courteous.
Life Lesson: stop being cheap and buy the seats up front. **Put one hand in the air, lean back and yell, “YOLO!”.
Back on track-
In your effort to appear, sorry, that’s not a conscious thought of yours. In your effort to feel holy (thereby escaping the shame and dogma you were damaged by as you grew up), appearing to be what they expect you to be… when Sunday comes… you put on your show. And you, my friend, shine!
(Listen, I’m giving you good psychology here, but since I reached out to you, I won’t charge)
Anyone who’s been with Jesus longer than the 12-18 minutes of a millennial-aged worship-service has ran into you in the lobby at church.
We smile, we greet (All of a sudden, I’m a little nauseous inside which is weird–I felt great until this moment) and then you invariably pop the question.
You smile a goofy, plastic smile as you show up, as though on direct orders from the God of Snooty Vengeance and you are the foot soldier prompt in dealing out internal conviction where you see fit (sorry, where “God” sees fit, you’re just the messenger, I know)
I can also understand your perspective of just “helping out” where the Holy Spirit has obviously “dropped the ball” wink, wink.
THE SCENE (Again, probably in the lobby) –
YOU: “SO (hands behind your back or neatly interlocked in front) how’s your spiritual life?”
(No italics because you’re not obvious at all. Not even much in tone. Remember, it took me years to pinpoint it consciously, though I always felt it)
Remember Dana Carvey’s Church Lady? If not, Google it. That’s what I think of… wait! Maybe he knew about you too! Ha!
Now, you stand there, quietly anticipating some struggle or sin to be voiced at this point.
You’re almost giddy at the prospect of what you can find out and “help” me “fix” in my “walk with God” or “GAWWWD” for my southern Pharisees in the building.
We smile, trying to display confidence, squint, go into Zen-speak and say something to the effect of, “Oh, it’s good. Really, really good.”
(Even though we still haven’t forgiven our best friend, or we just fell asleep to porn last night, or our girlfriend that we’re practicing safe sex with was seen leaving our best friend’s house, or we hit our drug stash this morning just to make it through church service–stop it, you do it too or something. Don’t judge us just because we sin differently than you.)
Then we part and continue the Sunday matinee. Because so much of it is simply… acting.
Wait, I hear the worship band starting to play Kanye now, time to go!
Okay, I’ll try to leave the tongue-and-cheek aside some, as I conclude. No promises–after all, it’s a gift 😉
Can you tell I’m pretty chill these days?
No? Might want to search within to find the source of that anger. Only IF that shoe fits.
I wrote this first, as closure for myself. I really did allow you to mess me up… badly. I’m sorry for that, for real.
You can check my other content. I’ve made some angry stuff with you in mind. These days, I’m not really “mad” anymore.
Anger? Okay, in ways. I’ll admit it. The difference today is that I finally figured out how to place it Jesus’ hands.
Fiiiiinally. Geez, I can be thick-skulled sometimes, thinking to myself, “DUH, dude, WAKE UP, pay attention–look how inconsistent with Jesus they are!”
Yep, that was me. But I know now. Took a while.
It is no secret the damage you’ve done throughout history, as Jesus moves toward restoring a hurting world. It’s been extreme, wouldn’t you agree?
I’ve always wanted to ask about Joan of Arc. Man, what’s up with her? You BURNED HER ALIVE. That’s hardcore. Well, come to think of it, the whole Jesus incident on the hill?? You may not have driven the nail into the cross but without you none of that would have been possible. So, this academy award goes to…
At least you made Joan a saint… later, wayyyyy later. You must’ve felt pretty stupid on that one.
But even today, I see how you look at the girls who are wearing stuff their fathers would not approve of, if they know who he is, but see, you don’t consider her story. Jesus does.
You publicly attempt to “rebuke” my language choices and yet you refuse to forgive offenses by your own blood, ensuring yours is one lonely and guilt-filled funeral.
Friendly reminder from Jesus’ brother, James: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” (I know you’re tweaked without a “proper bible reference”. Just Google it. It’s real, I promise)
From a distance, I saw you stage a coup and drive out of your church the most loving, accepting and dedicated pastor I’ve ever known personally. He was especially gracious to continue serving your our-way-is-the-only-way-100-year-old tomb. By the way, you’ve mistakenly labeled “Church” on the sign out front. Just FYI… let the maintenance guy know please.
(I’m trying to behave! Leave me alone)
I’ll leave the reason you did that alone, for the dignity of all–including yours–but we know what you did and you’re going to answer for that. I believe God is still just. I pray for you… rarely, to be honest, but I do.
I’m getting tired of writing this. I want to leave this forever. I will still encourage the victims of your misplaced sense of righteousness. That’s what birthed Instigation Nation. I wanted to find a place where love really did rule completely, even if the edges were sharp.
Be encouraged though, purity of heart and transparency can never be cut by the edges of Instigation Nation, only wickedness.
I wanted to find a place where instead of talking about whether or not tattoos are okay with God, we’re healing broken mothers, equipping struggling young fathers, setting free those who love God but for some reason, feel like they can never just be themselves around him, even though he died for them. You caused that damage.
That’s how the disciples were with Jesus, themselves. Drinking, cussing, & violent outbursts included.
I wanted to be around people who were real, and good.
I wanted to be around authentic people who really loved Jesus and wanted to live a kickass life.
People who were down-to-earth. People who I could feel love from–not condemnation, guilt, anxiety or shame.
I searched. So long. In so many places.
I’d think I found it and boom! Nope. Dude’s beating his wife but telling me I have anger issues.
I found it over here, nope, he’s not right with the money but preaching about faithfully “giving to the lord”.
Here it is! They’re great! It feels right. Ohhh… he abuses his body through gluttony and just told that girl in the mini-skirt and Lady Ga-Ga make-up, “Young lady, don’t you know your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. You’re not welcomed here dressed like that”.
The irony of the hypocrite may be the loudest sound in the universe.
I tried. Hard.
Me try love you long time.
It’s not going to work out.
And I’ll be honest: It’s you, not us.
Truly, I cannot stay any longer. I’ve given so much time and care, so much emotional strain. I’ve even sinned out of the influence of our relationship. I have laid before God and confessed it too. I owned it. (I’m trying to show you example here)
I fear one day you might approach Jesus, and he says something to the effect of “And… who are you?”
For real. You might wanna double check the requirements for admittance.
Enter stage right:
Basically, I couldn’t find a place that actually operated like what I’ve been reading all these years that Dr. Luke told us about. I couldn’t find a person who resembled the kind of leader that David, Solomon, James, Paul & others described… not to mention one to resemble Jesus, that could help lead me.
That means helping me to navigate the wild rapids that are the construct of my soul. Nope, just found folks that wanted to mold my identity into their own image.
I couldn’t find that elusive, Sasquatch of an entity or person that had been tugging at the depth of my soul for well over a decade. I kept searching, frustrated, getting angry, praying & pleading… nothing.
“I promise, I’m a great student! I’ll listen. I’ll take a bullet for you too! I’ll do right by you always, especially behind your back! I might not be your best student but no one is more tenacious! Someone! Anyone???”
Crickets. Disappointment. Real heart-ache. Honest and deep hurt. “Lord, will I have anybody to walk the wilderness of the world with?”
DISCLAIMER: The Spirit spoke to me, in my situation, very personally. It’s not a blanket claim or absolute, black & white recommendation for all –
The full section revealed to me is 1 John 2.23-29.
The part for my main message to you is:
… I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things… remain in him… you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.
See how silly your social media policing looks now?
So… after getting over some fears, I made the place someone like me needed. And I became the man I had been looking for.
Just like that, those searching, hurting, desiring, desperately trying to figure this life out… they now have a place… and a guy… for them. Now they have a shot at actually meeting Jesus. (and nooo, I don’t think I’m the only way, nice try)
And I’m definitely not the only individual out there for them. There are many, but our forces have been divided. But that’s my concern, not yours.
Am I saying I was looking for perfection and now “here I am!”?
Ha! Please, at least pretend you’ve been paying attention. I’m not answering that. Geez. So offensive.
The bottom line, and this is extremely important, it’s the whole point as a matter of fact –
I forgive you.
For real, for real.
100% forgiven. No malice or strife or any other poison is in me toward you. Zero.
I’ve written about you before, even straight to you like this. But the Spirit put me in check and said, “Adam, you’re not ready yet. Let’s get you healed up first. Then we can reach out. Not now.”
You got it, Lord. Roger that.
This has taken years.
First, I wanted to rip your face off (ahhh, I jest – chill out) and then I’m like, “What kind of example is that to my kids and others?”.
Not a very good one.
So… I waited.
I prayed. I actually learned how to forgive. (Something rather elusive it seems, as people all over talk about it, especially on Sundays, but who’s really doing it, who really knows how and who really can help someone else actually achieve it? On purpose and effective. As in, you no longer feel that poison toward the offender. Hard feelings GONE. C’mon, who knows? Raise your hands if you know. I didn’t think so.
Man, tough life… this church world.
Jesus loves you. I forgive you. But you’re destroying peoples’ chance at intimacy with Jesus. You are. My dear Mr./Mrs. Pharisee, you… are a stumbling block.
If you take that as judgment, that is your perception and your right to do so.
I know my heart rather well, these days (though, it’s still deceitful at times).
You’ve lost your power, at least over this sinner-gone-wild-type-of-saint.
I no longer have concern for your misplaced and misguided modus operandi.
I no longer have little holes in the armor for your stingers to reach through and sit in my gut for days.
I am embarrassed at how much power and influence I gave you. You did not ask for it and I apologize.
I was sooo green when Jesus scooped me up. So clueless. But damn was I head over heels.
You took advantage and I ate it up. Again, in your case, I believe this probably wasn’t with done with evil intent but terrible execution, for sure. Millions are eating it up around the world as I type these words. They are being damaged by your self-conscious will to get them to behave themselves.
I will be here letting them know they can cut free, after all, doesn’t Jesus save them while they’re dead in their sin? (Check Ephesians Chapter 2 in your bible for me, to see if we agree on that.)
I will continue to be a voice of grace, restoration, transformation, freedom, encouragement, love, and healthy accountability. And pizza. I freaking love pizza!
I pray you change. Really. Can you imagine… getting to the final altar call and having to answer for tripping up even one soul from a life they could’ve had with Jesus? Holy crap. I literally shivered just now. NO THANKS.
Your call though. Do what you gotta do and we’ll see how it all shakes out some day.
For now, understand, we are done here. I absolutely wish you blessings and love and peace in your troubled, and likely unrepentant, heart.
If you ever decide you’re done with being the misguided and uninvited street police of God, I’m here for you. We can pray. I can buy you a coffee in your church’s café, unless that’s too “seeker-sensitive” for your denomination. One condition: You’re not allowed to ask me about my dispensational position.
I can even fix you a plate at your next potluck! You name it, I’m there.
Man, it’s hard to let go after all these years… my fingers keep on goin.
Remember, your job is to love. God’s job is to judge. Period.
Phew, man, glad that’s over.
Goodbye, Mr. & Mrs. Pharisee.
See you beyond the gates, I hope.
Encore! (I’m too long-winded to not)
For the Humble:
I have scripture references, if you’d like. Email me, if you’re willing to get help living a life exemplifying Jesus. This cannot include your opinions or even using the precious truth in the bible to beat people up with it. “Truth delivered without love is cruelty”. If you’re committed to minding your own business, letting God do what God does and knowing how/when to speak up when the Spirit of God tells you to, we’re good.
For the Proud:
Please, seek to understand. If you seek to argue at all or Heaven forbid–insult me or threaten me, pass on to someone who will play your game. I HATE IT. I will not do it. Take yourself to Facebook; lots of opportunities there. It’s the ultimate forum for Pharisees. I’m too busy trying to walk in his will, falling and getting back up. Not to mention all the lifting of others after you’ve knocked them down the front steps of your church back into the street. See, I mean that and it just feels gross to say, as though I am Mr. Holy guy.
Let me know, if you’re so compelled.
If one person of Pharisaic tendencies humbles themselves, submits to God’s will in this area and is transformed… this effort will be a success.
One person can be tremendous, humanly speaking… with or without Jesus.
You do not need Jesus to get rich, physically healthy or fall in love.
But we’re are spiritual creatures first and that means no person can be truly complete without him.
Now, tremendous and complete… so rare.
That’s what Instigation Nation does.