I remember, with much embarrassment, when I was a young child, I would dress up and pretend I was one of the members in the rock group ‘Kiss’. I used to paint my face (like the members of the band did), set up a miniature stage in the family dining room, get out my guitar (a Wilson tennis racket) and spend hours in front of the record player and speakers pretending I playing to thousands of screaming fans in my house.
I didn’t realize it at the time that I was playing a hypocrite at such a young age. The Greek word for Hypocrite, in ancient Grecian times, meant an interpreter from underneath and referred to actors or stage players. Hypocrites weremen in plays who acted a part or pretended to be someone they were not. They were counterfeit, and men who assumed and spoke and acted under a feigned character, usually by disguising themselves by wearing a mask. Over the centuries this word has been used to describe people who acted morally upright, pious, and good on the outside but were just the opposite.
I’m sure many, if not all of you, have heard someone say, “Christians are a bunch of hypocrites!” Maybe you havebeen called one yourself. I remember vividly in Junior College hearing that all the time. As a Christian in a secular college, I would hear this phrase from students with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths and belching out secondhand smoke into the while wearing a Take Care of Mother Earth...Stop Pollution T-shirt (talk about hypocrisy) .
In the many conversations I had with people I would never deny that Christianity was full of hypocrites and hypocrisy. I would respond, “Yes, there are a bunch of hypocrites in Christianity, but many of us acknowledge it and try to do something to make this change.” I would also hear some Christians become defensive by responding, “Well the whole world is also full of hypocrites, not just Christians.” This is true, but this truth does not justify or give us the license to be hypocrites as well. The Christian attitude should never be since the world is full of hypocrites so I can be one as well. No, our attitude should be one of genuiness, authenticity, and uprightness. We should strive to live as people who breaks the cycle of hypocrisy in Christianity and live by the power of the Spirit an authentic Christian life.
Matthew 23:13 – 36
Jesus uses the word hypocrite seven times in this passage and not once does he use the word in a positive manner, nor does He anywhere else in the Gospels. Jesus used the word “hypocrite” to describe the inconsistent and sinful lifestyles of the religious leaders of His time. In this passage Jesus says, “Do not listen to these leaders and whatever you do, do not do as they do.” This is a harsh and bold statement made against the leaders of his time and as you can guess was not received so well by the leaders. In verses 25 - 28 Jesus compares the Pharisee’s to a cup and a bowl that are clean on the outside and filthy on the inside. These leaders acted religious, pious, and said the right words in public but inside they were sinful, decrepit, and dead. They had no relationship with God, and they didn’t intend on having one. Pharisee was their “job” it was not their calling.
Unfortunately, in the past 2,000 years things have not changed much. Christians and the Church are still battling hypocrisy in their midst. This should not be the case. Jesus calls his followers to a different life. He calls us to a life of authenticity and not hypocrisy. I believe one of the ways we can start to live authentic lives is by identifying the areas where we are failing in our hypocrisy. I have identified Five ways the church practices hypocrisy, and by identifying these practices we can commit to reversing this downward trend and start being genuine followers of Jesus Christ.
5 Ways the Church Practices Hypocrisy
The NET Bible translates “But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out – he will be blessed in what he does.” I love how it reads… “The one who peers… and fixes his attention… does not become a forgetful listener BUT one who lives it out.” I believe this is precisely what God desires from his followers. The one who hears the Word of God, applies it to his life and lives his life according to it will be blessed in all he does.
Christians all over the world today are sitting in their pews and standing behind the pulpits with a nice smile face and an “everything is alright” look to them. When on the inside they are festering with anger, jealousy, pride, lust etc. They have on, what I like to call, their Church face. What God wants from us is to come into His presence with our true faces on no matter what is going on in our lives. We must bring our problems and burdens in with us and leave them at the altar so we may leave the building free from our bondage or weakness.
Now is the time to check your own heart. Do you feel like a cup or bowl that is clean on the outside, but dirty on the inside? Do you feel as though you are living a life of hypocrisy? I know I do sometimes. I put my Church face on and act as though everything is just great! But in fact, it is not.
How can we live an authentic, genuine Christian life? We need to be honest with God and with ourselves. Nobody has his life completely together. This is the truth plain and simple. We all need help, and our help comes from God. Psalms 33:20 states, “Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.” It’s time to get real with God. Quit living the life of a hypocrite and start living out your faith as an authentic Christian.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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