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Church Pride May Be the Worst Kind

Church Pride May Be the Worst Kind

Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. Luke 11:39

I recently attended a recovery church meeting (think AA meets church) where it was obvious that those in attendance were there to address their significant life problems and pursue God. Such a function gets something very right about church that Sunday morning church often gets very wrong.

Personally, it wasn’t that long ago that I spent more time showering and getting dressed for church than I spent on my spiritual life in an entire week. I was addicted, but on Sunday morning at least, I looked shiny on the outside. Even now, in recovery, it’s still easy to whitewash my life for church. We can be fighting in the car on the way and then be all smiles when we get there. I get it. It’s not really appropriate for me to stand up front, confessing my sins of the previous week.

There’s something more sinister going on though. It’s not just that the one struggling with pornography probably shouldn’t confess to a mixed crowd of 500. It’s that the one struggling with pornography can’t share his struggle with anyone because he’s ashamed to look so dirty next to those who appear so clean. When in the midst of those who look perfect, no one wants to confess flaws.

Jesus addressed this facade in today’s passage, where he admonished the pharisees for washing the outside of a cup while leaving the inside filthy. The vessel appears clean externally, but on the inside – where it really matters – the cup is disgusting.

This is church pride, and it may be the worst kind of pride. It’s self-obsession, it’s sinful, it’s sick, and it often feels right at home in Sunday morning church, where we hide our flaws, doing our best to appear perfect. Honestly, it’s something I still struggle with. It’s far easier to put on a clean shirt and a smile than to honest about my failures.

Again, Sunday morning may not be the time to air my dirty laundry, but if cleaning up my exterior to hide my interior means I never address my struggle, then I’m the pharisee. What I need, is to find a small group of trusted friends or perhaps a church recovery meeting. I need to find others who are also willing to be honest, so that I can, in community, come to Christ, abandoning my self-destructive ways.

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