Imagine yourself moving into a house with a huge picture window overlooking a grand view across a wise expanse of water enclosed by a range of snow-capped mountains. You have a ringside seat before wild storms and cloud formations, the entire spectrum of sun-illuminated colors in the rocks and trees and wildflowers and water. You are captivated by the view. Several times a day you interrupt your work and stand before this window to take in the majesty and the beauty, thrilled with the botanical and meteorological fireworks.
One afternoon you notice some bird droppings on the window glass, get a bucket of water and a towel, and clean it. A couple of days later a rain storm leaves the window streaked, and the bucket comes out again. Another day visitors come with a thrive of small dirty-fingered children. The moment they leave you see all the smudge marks on the glass. They are hardly out the door before you have the bucket out. You are so proud of that window, and it’s such a large window. But it’s incredible how many different ways foreign objects can attach themselves to that window, obscuring the vision, distracting from the contemplative beauty.
Keeping that window clean develops into an obsessive-compulsive neurosis. You accumulate ladders and buckets and squeegees. You construct a scaffolding inside and out to make it possible to get to the all the difficult corners and heights. You have the cleanest window in North America — but it’s now been years since you looked through it.
You’ve become a Pharisee.
Eugene Peterson, The Jesus Way, p. 211.