Here's A Thought...

Here are some "THOUGHTS" that will hopefully answer some of the questions that you may have about what the Bible has to say about our everyday lives. These articles are here to provoke thought; provide answers, guidance and resources; all in an effort to bring you into a closer relationship with your Heavenly Father!


Monday, May 31, 2010


Hypocrisy 05/31/2010

You know when you first say the word, I begin to conjure up all kinds of negative images and memories of negative encounters that I have had with “Christians”, “religious” people, or the church. I immediately begin to regale myself in stories of all the “evil” people that I have encountered that also “align” themselves with God. Christians who just can’t wait to smack you over the head with the Bible or with their own Christianity, yet clearly do not practice what they preach. What a bunch of, well………hypocrites!
After a while, one begins to wonder, are all of these people evil? Are they all just tools of the devil sent to every church I go to with the sole intent of frustrating me and just ticking me off? Why would God allow such people in His church? Were they ever saved? Are they just evil? The more I question, the more I have questions. So being the answer driven person that I am, I began to ponder.
I started with the question, who are we in God’s eye. The best place to answer that is the great resource (talking about the Bible, silly). After God had created the world and all that was in it, he beheld it and said it was “very good”(Gen 1:31). The Bible also says that we are created in his image (Gen 1:26), and that “everything created by God is good” (1 Tim 4:4). So that has leads me to the conclusion that in our creation, in our conception, that we are all basically “good”.
So how do a people of a basic “good” nature, who are attempting to follow as God has planned, to live in His word (Bible again), and by His example (Jesus Christ), in a community by His design (church), get it so wrong. The church by its nature is not evil. The people who attend church, for the most part, have a true heart to follow Christ. So what in the world is going on!
I have come up with some answers to the questions that may help you with your walk with Christ and perhaps help to prevent hypocrisy in your life. Maybe, if you are better able to understand the why and how hypocrisy occurs, you can be better able to prevent it from happening in your life, and to also help you to better identify, cope with, and address when it occurs in your church.
Ok, foundation. Before you can tackle any question related to God or religion, you have to have some basic understandings. There is a God, there is a devil, there is good and there is evil. The devil has been around since the beginning of our time. Since the temptation in the garden to tempting Christ in the desert, and his influence is ever expanding and growing to this day. If you don’t understand that there is an active force in this world that will stop at nothing to derail you from your path to God, you are already deceived and will always come back to the question, “why”. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12) So now that you at least have recognition of the spiritual struggle, we can begin to lay the foundation to understanding the “why”.
So we are created to be good, we have and evil force fighting against us, but why is it so hard? Easy, a loving God that gave us choice. If all we had to choose from was good, how is their free will? If we go to a buffet and all that is available is beans and carrots, we would live very healthy, but have no choice. There is no free will until someone throws some grease, fat and deserts on the bar. Now I have a choice, now I can exercise my free will. (If you can wrap your brain around that, you are much further than most philosophers.) If you choose a simpler explanation; due to original sin, we are all born with a sinful nature with expectations to fail. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Rom 3:23). And we are also given the “out” to be completely forgiven for all those sins, “and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24). Whichever explanation works best for you, understand that sin is part of this world, it is all around us and it is in us. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”(1Jn 1:8). Jesus promised the disciples when he said, “Temptations to sin are sure to come.” (Luke 17:1). If you choose to believe that sin is not ever present, you are as the ostrich with its head in the sand. He thinks that he is hidden and no one can see him. “Did you ever notice that if you stick your head in the sand standing up, you present a tempting target to the devil?” (Mike Warnke)
Here we are, created as “good”, with a nature to sin against God, and an invisible force that is giving us kidney punches. A force that is Hell bent (if you’ll pardon the pun) on frustrating you right out of Heaven. If you have been a Christian for a while, this is not news to you. If you are new to being a Christian and this is new to you, please sit down and breath before your brain melts! Being reminded of the why’s in life can help to put some things into perspective. And to all the junior philosophers out there, there is absolutely more to understanding all the whys, but for our intent and purposes, let’s roll over before we attempt to crawl or walk, shall we?
Now for the how, what is the hook, how are we so easily manipulated and pulled so far off course. Once you identify the “hook”, you can begin to avoid the bait. (Using fishing reference here……….we’re the fish.) There are many different lures, hooks, baits and traps the devil uses to draw us off course, to get us into his nets. If I can show a few of them to you, the waters might start to look a little safer.
I would like to start with the word expectation. When you hear the word, “Christian”, what images do you conjure up, what do you envision, what are your expectations. Before you became a Christian, what were your expectations? Did you hold Christians up to an unreasonably high standard? Did you hold Christians up to standards that you now realize, as a Christian, were unreasonable?
I have to admit, there was a time in my life, that all I did was look for the dirt, the chink in the armor. Introduce yourself as a Christian and I was going to find your flaw just to prove to you (and maybe myself) what a hypocrite you were. I would walk into a church, eyes wide open, ears at full tilt, mind in tuned to every movement, every sound. Observing the placement of every item in the church, the moods and the attitudes of each and every person present. Dissecting every word spoken or preached. I would not leave until I had revealed your “hypocrisy”. Were my standards maybe just a little too high, did I perhaps expect perfection out of a world that well…….isn’t. So who was the hypocrite?
Expectations. I recently had the great honor and privilege to lead a woman to Christ. I would love to take full credit, but I was just a lowly tool with Christ driving the hammer. It took a lot of chiseling to convince this woman that she needed Christ in her life. Interestingly enough, one of her hang-ups was, expectations. Not any expectations that I had placed on her, and certainly not any expectations placed by God or his son Jesus Christ. But she was hung up on the unreasonable expectations she had placed on herself. She didn’t believe that she could make what she perceived to be the necessary behavioral modifications to become a Christian. She didn’t think she could “act” the part. She didn’t believe that she could meet the behavioral expectations that she perceived others would place on her, just by accepting Christ! The thing that was preventing here from coming to Jesus was an unreasonable, perceived expectation of how she would have to behave. REALLY!! Now hang on to this, it is going to become very important shortly.
One more time: Good people, with good intentions, and an evil force at the ready, with unreasonable expectations…what’s next. In walks pride arm in arm with perception. (For those of you that didn’t just throw this down or walk out of the room, I will go on.) Pride (pause again allowing word to soak in…….). Pride is like salt. Just a sprinkle and it’s not too bad. Another sprinkle and the next thing you know; clogged arteries, hypertension, heart attack, stroke and death. (How many of you just thought about your salt intake…hmmm.) “It was just a sprinkle more..” read the epitaph! Pride is not a bad thing. Pride is what makes you bathe everyday…. and we all thank you. Pride is what causes us to do well in school or compete well in sports. Pride is what keeps your home nice (maybe), or keeps you from littering the streets or the church. Pride in proper context is not a bad thing. However, the Bible comes with some very strict warnings: “Pride and arrogance are the way of evil”(Prv 8:13). “Pride goes before destruction”(Prv 16:18). “One’s pride will bring him low.”(Prv 23:23). Jesus talks very plainly in Mark 7:14-23 about what defiles a person. Pride is right in there.
But what does that have to do with perception? I’m glad you asked. I have worked in several fields. Different jobs and careers that I have invested much time and PRIDE into becoming somewhat of an expert in my field. I was good at what I did, I knew my job and I did it well. Nothing, and I mean nothing would anger me faster than for someone to challenge my abilities in my job. I was good, I worked hard to be good and I wanted to be perceived as someone that was good at what I did. Bad characteristics, perhaps not, after all, what is wrong with wanting to be good at what you do? Doesn’t God promise to bless the fruits of your labor? But what if I’m not as good as I want to be perceived? What if I stretch the truth of what my abilities really are? I worked as a nurse, what’s wrong with wanting my patients to have confidence in me? I should want them to trust me, to look to me. That’s what I’m there for, right? What’s wrong with telling a patient I’m really good at starting an IV, then, three needle sticks later and I’m going for help! Has that patient just judged me as a hypocrite? Are they judging the whole department, or perhaps the hospital? “Don’t go there, they can’t even start an IV!” Perception!
We all want to be the best we can be. We all want to try to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. We all have, or should have a desire to be the best Christians we can be. We should all want to grow in our understanding of what it means to be a Christian. However, we all have sinned, we all struggle with pride. We all want to be the best we can be, or at least to be perceived as being….and there it happens.
We dress a little nicer because we don’t want anyone to know our financial struggles. We force on a smile before getting to church to hide the hurt we have from our every day lives. In an effort to deflect our own shortcomings, we quickly point out everyone else’s problems so that maybe, no one will see where we have fallen short. So no one will see that we are struggling. Oh no, if they see my struggles, then they will doubt my faith, they will doubt my beliefs. They will doubt my Christianity! So now I have painted on the veil of hypocrisy. Not in an effort to hurt, not to cause pain or to push people away from me, the church, or away from Christ, but in an attempt to hide, in an attempt to cover my own shortcomings, my own perceived failures.
We all have done it. How many times have you seen a fellow church member struggle, and instead of offering a hand, we offer judgment. Have we seen someone that may be hurting and just question their decisions or gossip about their struggles? Have you known someone that just stopped showing up to church and you never checked on them or even prayed for them. What about our pastors? Do we set them up on such unreasonably high pedestals, that it is just a mater of time before they fall? How much support do we offer, how much help do we give? Do we have huge expectations and then refuse to give the support for them to accomplish all the things we want? How do our expectations drive others into the ground? Do we force people into hypocrisy just to cover the fact that they can’t meet our expectations!
The problem with the veil of hypocrisy is that it has no substance. You can see right through it. It is a smoke screen, a distraction a magic trick. Jesus warned, “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore, whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.” (Luke 12:1-3) Some people and some churches are very good at it. If you throw on enough screens, enough distractions, enough illusions, you can hide the truth. But eventually it fails. It is only through being open, honest, genuine and sincere in our love for Jesus Christ, can we then allow everyone to see us for who we are. So we can be seen as God sees us, as sinners, as lost sheep who are eager to find our Shepard.
We are called to simply love the Lord with all our hearts, with all our soul, and with all our minds, and to love our neighbors as we would love ourselves, to love, as we want to be loved. (Mat 22:34-40) It’s time to drop the veil. You’re not fooling anyone, and certainly not God. The church needs to be a place where we all can come and fall on our face and say, “I am not worthy, I have sinned and I have struggles”, and for us as individuals and as the church to respond, “Oh yeah? Me too. But let me help you up, because thanks be to God, Jesus suffered my stripes, took my beating, and hung on my cross, and He rose again, so that I can stand here today, in God’s grace, in the love of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, admit my sins and profess, it’s ok!”