Men, we need as followers of Jesus to be aware of being contaminated by  “Pharisee yeast”  on our journey with Jesus.  Listen to this warning from Jesus. “Watch yourselves carefully so you don’t get contaminated with Pharisee yeast. Pharisee phoniness.  You  can’t keep your true self hidden forever; before long you’ll be exposed.  You can’t hide behind  a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known.  You can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day’s coming when those whispers  will be repeated all over town.” (Luke 12:2-3 – Message)

“Pharisee yeast” is found not in the culture but  in the church, in  men’s groups, and in the heart of every follower of Jesus.  You see, this yeast is really a religious spirit.  It is manifested in “the church guy” whose walk with Jesus in  mostly a “white – knuckling”  performance of  trying to be good.  How do I know?  I did it for years as a pastor.  After all, I was supposed to be on the top of my game.  “Performance orientation” as the name of my game as a “professional holy man.” On the inside I was working hard to keep on the religious mask (white-knuckling). My greatest fear was that my true face would be exposed to others.

What finally got to me, as a “niece Christian guy,” was my anger.  I had a “floating bitterness” that I inflicted on my family and the church in my preaching.  My religious mask was slipping,  the more I was”white-knuckling” my walk with Jesus.  The best thing that happened to me, back there in the middle 80’s, is finding of a male “soul friend.” A “male mother” is the description Richard Rohr uses.  It is another guy who is good at listening to the movements of your soul, while loving you. It was such a relief to admit my anger to another guy, knowing that God loved me in my condition.  I could be just myself, with all my spiritual stink.

All the spiritual improvement projects that I came up with to keep my spiritual mask from falling were no longer working.  With my spiritual friend, Hal, a Methodist Pastor, I was able to begin to share my secrets.  The pressure was off. What relief there was in being honest.  I know I had to open up and give it all up to Jesus.  “If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me.  If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me. (Matt 10:38-39 – Message)

Is there some guy reading this blog today who feels simply like a “religious shirt,’ that is, you know you are only going through the motions.   There is no substance –  it is all outward show – a shirt.  I know how you feel.  I was there at one time. I am still tempted to “play the religious game.”  What is the key?  Name your white-knuckling performing.   Relax in the presence of Jesus and another brother and let it all go.  Fall into the arms of a loving God as a wounded, insecure child.  Open your protective, fearful heart to his love.  You might need a “male mother” type guy to help you.