This week, Russian President, Vladimir Putin shocked many by praying for America because of our moral degradation. So I started to write an article to thank him and to scold American Christians for our backsliding. There’s just one problem – Putin.
I simply can’t line up with those who are congratulating him. This is a man who is guilty of severe human rights violations. And the country he leads is responsible for promoting atheism, trying to stamp out religion, brutally murdering over 200,000 clergy and believers, and destroying over 40,000 churches, mosques, and synagogues. In light of his actions, his offer of prayer seems shallow and political.
But it did remind me of something I wanted to do a long time ago.
Once upon a time, I wanted to write an article called, “In Defense of the Pharisees.” Then I remembered that Jesus called them a “brood of vipers” and “whitewashed tombs.” So I came to my senses. But I am convinced that there was a time when the Pharisees had the right motivation.
You see, the Pharisee sect arose out of difficult circumstances. The Greeks were practicing Hellenization, (forcing every culture to accept Greek language, customs, and religion). And those who stood firm on God’s laws became known as the Pharisees. But their respect for the law soon grew into something vile.
Fast forward to today, Christians. After all, history should be used for our learning, and there is a huge WARNING sign posted: don’t be like the hypocrites!
Jesus confirmed that the teaching of the Pharisees should be followed carefully, but not their lives (MT 23:3). In other words, what we are teaching Biblically might be correct, and it should be followed. But there might be one big hindrance to people hearing God’s Word…us!
Will we avoid the hypocrisy of a Putin or the Pharisees? Paul reminds us that people are saved when we watch our teaching and our lives (1 Timothy 4:16). And if we do so, perhaps people will, once again, desire to ask us the reason for the hope we have within us (1 Peter 3:15).