Confessions of a Teenage Pharisee

“This isn’t a kingdom for the worthy; it’s a kingdom for the hungry.” -Rachel Held Evans

Back in high school, I distinctly remember a season when our weekly “men’s” (if you could even call us that) bible study was joined (briefly) by a new member from our neighborhood.

He was, as my mother would probably say, a “bad influence” type of guy – and definitely not the type you’d expect to find hanging around a church (except of course maybe to flirt with the youth group girls).

But anyway, there he was, and I’ll never forget this question he asked one night:

“So…let’s just say ‘somebody’ stole an iPod…are they going to Hell?” (Spoiler: ‘somebody’ was him)

Other than the initial bizarreness of the question, what I vividly recall was feeling both self-righteous, and also abruptly uncomfortable at the thought of sitting next to someone who had essentially just confessed to being a petty thief; a ‘sinner’.

In that moment, the little 16-year old Pharisee that I was had pronounced judgement in my heart – deciding that a) he was not welcome here and b) until he got the hint and left, I was going to keep my distance.

But here’s the thing, I don’t get to decide who is good enough, who is smart enough, or who is worthy enough to experience God’s grace, mercy, or love.

The truth is, that kid, ill-intentioned or not, wanted to be in that room with us; he was hungry – so who am I to judge?

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I (Jesus) have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5: 31-32)

And you know what? Thank God for that – I’ll be first in line.