Posted by Pastor Stuart

If there’s one thing we know about the Pharisees, is that they were the bad guys, right?… Well, maybe not so much. We step into murky waters when we start to label a person or group as “bad” just because we disagree with them.

Even the Pharisees were trying really hard to follow God’s rules; they were just so focused on their religious rules that they couldn’t see or accept the new way God was working through Jesus.

New Testament scholar Marcus Borg’s dissertation topic was inspired by the intriguing question, “Let’s assume the Pharisees were not hypocrites–that they were not bad people, but good people, virtuous and devout. What then was the conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees about?” Hmmm…

With the government shutdown going on right now but hopefully ending soon, this article helps us improve our perspective when it comes to dealing with people we might consider “opponents.”

Even when people disagree with us, they’re not doing so because they are evil or sinister; they just disagree about what is best. And since we are all in a community together (especially within the church), we need to remember how to talk nice. Here are tips from the article:

1. Set aside presuppositions about opponents.

2. Listen to opponents share their perspectives and their reasoning to ensure that we accurately understand their position.

3. Share our views and the reasons for holding them and ensure that our opponents accurately understand our position.

4. Search for shared ground on which compromise and collaboration toward the common good can be enacted.

5.  Discuss and even debate our differences in a manner that presents our opponents’ views fairly and accurately, even when we are critiquing their position.

These are all hard to do, but labeling a person/group as “bad and always wrong” will never get you anywhere. That was part of the Pharisees problems. They were never even willing to accept that Jesus had good godly wisdom and redemption to offer. So don’t be a Pharisee!!

It’s one thing to say, “I do not think that’s a good idea,” and another thing to say, “You are terrible and are killing our community with your evilness.”

There are too many Pharisees still around today who care more about pushing their opinion and talking at people rather than sharing life and talking with people.

How can we as a church be more like Jesus and less like the Pharisees when it comes to conflict and differences of opinion?

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