Pharisees and priests……

We all can identify the spirit of pharisaism among us- those who hold themselves forth as more righteous than others, who separate themselves from the rest of us and flaunt their religiosity before us, often making others feel inferior and unrighteous.

But how often are we aware of the trap of priestliness- the Caiaphas complex?

I am reading The Ragamuffin Gospel, having had my curisoity piqued by three people in my life , individually and without awareness of one another, reading and recommending it to me. Anytime I get ganged up on that way by three unrelated, individual sources I figure God is directing my attention to the issue and I’d best pay heed.

In it Brennan Manning points out that there is a danger in losing respect and compassion for individual people as our sense of the sacred becomes wrapped up in institutions, structures, and abstractions. The perennial “priest” is dedicated to the “people” (with a great sweeping gesture of his arm), to the “nation”, to the “temple”, impersonal brick and mortar, as Manning says. Such people become impersonal themselves, “no longer a warm human being, but a robot, as fixed and rigid as his unchanging world.” Such priestly types, bent on protecting and promoting the institutions they serve, become numb to the hurts and needs of the individuals that make up those institutions.

While I was not aware of this specific danger in any pathological complex kind of way, something of this description strikes a cord in me. And I feel the twinge of conviction in my own life. I thank God that He is faithful to discipline me, showing me the deadends and rabbit trails that look like appealing paths on my journey, but are really detours that go nowhere.