I fear that I would make an excellent Pharisee. I like to know what it is that is expected of me, that way I have the best possible opportunity to succeed. If I know that three potlucks a year plus two in-my-home gatherings plus a casserole for someone who is sick is what is expected to be hospitable then I can do that. If you explain that forty-eight out of fifty-two Sunday meetings is what "not forsaking meeting together" means, then I've got that covered. What does it mean to "meditate day and night" on God's word? How far do I need to carry my cross? Give me some details! I want to be a disciple, but how do I do that?
See, the Pharisees were seeking to make things clearer for everyone. They were defining the more global commands. And, we do the same thing! We just deny that we are being Pharisees when we do it. We define spiritual acumen by the success of ministry or size of congregation. A thorough delving into a difficult passage must indicate that someone is a "better" disciple than someone who "just" knows a few verses. We set up criteria of what is a "good" "better" and "best" disciple--usually as a means of alleviating some of our guilt that we are not doing enough whilst at the same time showing that we are doing more than others.
But that is never what God intended. He intended for us to follow him. He intended for us to trust him. He intended for us to love him. He promised to do the growing of us---if we were just faithful to allow him access to our lives.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
He just wants faithful access to my life. What a relief! I don't have to tick all the right boxes or be involved in all the right causes. I need to be faithful to follow him. He does the rest.
“What makes authentic disciples is not visions, ecstasies, biblical mastery of chapter and verse, or spectacular success in the ministry, but a capacity for faithfulness.”
Brennan Manning, Ragamuffin Gospel
Father God, today renew in me a spirit of faithfulness. Squelch the need for busyness in my heart. I want feet and eyes and a heart that is focused on following you. Because of Jesus' faithfulness....Amen.