A few days ago, I took my ten year old daughter to see the latest Disney/Pixar animated movie, Inside Out. The film takes the viewer inside the head of an eleven year old girl named Riley Andersen. Riley’s emotions – joy, anger, disgust, fear and sadness – are personified by little people living in the control center of her brain.
The movie shows the emotional turmoil of an eleven year old girl dealing with the trauma of moving far away from her friends and former life. Our movie date was a poignant moment for both my preteen daughter and me. The film captured brilliantly the emotional rollercoaster going on inside a young person’s head.
It also got me thinking about the little men living inside my own head. You see, I too have a number of emotions rustling around inside of me. In fact, I also have another little man living inside my head and heart.
He is a Pharisee.
Do you know who the Pharisees were? The Pharisees were a group of religious teachers who lived in Jesus’ day. They began with noble goals. In the days after the Babylonian captivity, a group of rabbis noticed how God’s people did not know what God’s Word said. They weren’t living their faith.
The Pharisees sought to teach people God’s Word and encourage them to follow God’s law. The Pharisees practiced what they preached. They lived outwardly pious lives. They were highly respected by the people.
Soon, however, the Pharisees began to think they were better than everyone else. They thought their holy lives were earning for them God’s love and favor.
They hated Jesus because he told them they were just as sinful as everyone else. He told them they too needed a Savior. He called them “white-washed tombs” – sparkling clean on the outside, dead on the inside.
Suffice it to say, the Pharisees led the charge to have Jesus killed.
I have a little Pharisee living in my head and heart. He rears his ugly head as I watch and read about the public moral failings of politicians, celebrities and even other clergy. He puffs out his chest as I hear, “Nice sermon, pastor!” or “I love your articles!” He whispers in my head, “God is really lucky to have you on his team.”
The little Pharisee who resides in my head and heart is blinded by pride and arrogance. He doesn’t want to see the truth.
The truth is I am a despicable sinner who has dark and dirty sins which other people often cannot see. The truth is I was born stained by sin and have rolled around in it like a pig in manure ever since.
The little Pharisee living in my head hates to hear that. He tries to keep me from humbly accepting who I am and what I deserve. Thankfully he is not the only one who has taken residence in my head and heart.
Through the waters of Holy Baptism and the promises of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit now lives in me. Though I still have that little Pharisee inside my head, the Holy Spirit helps me see the truth about who I really am and also about who my Savior is.
Though I am dirty and despicable sinner, my God and Savior loves me anyway. He lived the perfect life I have not. He died my death. Everything I am and everything I have is because of him.
I have a little Pharisee living inside my head. So do you. Don’t listen to his lies. Don’t think you’re better than other people. Don’t think God loves you because you’re so good or because you do so much for him. Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking through God’s Word. Hear him remind you of your sin and your Savior Jesus.
Fight against that little Pharisee living inside your head.