Thursday, December 15, 2005

Hypocrisy

A common refrain heard among folks who do not attend worship, is that the church is full of hypocrites. I find this somewhat amusing in that when it comes to religion, people demand absolute purity of mind and motive. The idea of sitting next to a hypocrite fills them with sense of intolerable repugnance. The supermarket is full of hypocrites, and I am sure Congress has one or two, and for that matter I bet you can find hypocrites just about anywhere. So why is this flaw or sin used as a prophylactic against church attendance?

There are two types of people who refuse to worship in a church with hypocrites. One group is made up of the walking wounded, those who have been spiritually damaged by individuals or a church clique or especially a member of the clergy. Their pain and sense of betrayal finds expression in an outrage over the church's failing as a community of holiness and healing. To such people we must be very compassionate and prayerful, and not dismiss their criticisms out of hand. They must be met with understanding, mercy, and love - confessing that yes the church can be a difficult place.

The second group of people who accuse the church of hypocrisy are those with a guilty conscience, who are searching for an obvious and irrefutable reason for their spiritual apathy or unbelief. My response here is to agree with them - yes, the church is full of hypocrites, and I happen to be one of the worst, since I dare to enter to the pulpit each Sunday and speak God's Holy Word with sinful lips.

The origin of the word hypocrisy is, of course, Greek: hypo + krisis, which is a word that was used in the Greek theater. A hypocrite was one who played a part on the stage, i.e., an actor. Hence in English, a hypocrite is one who pretends to be something one is not. "Hypocrite" and "hypocrisy" appear numerous times in the New Testament. For example, Jesus warns the disciples to "Beware the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy" (Luke 12:1). Paul accused Peter of hypocrisy in Galatians 2:11-13, when Peter separated himself from the Gentiles when Jewish Christians arrived in Antioch. It is clearly listed as a sin, and one for which we must be ever mindful when we are in confession mode.

But hypocrisy is not a valid excuse for separation from the church, for the church is the body of Christ, and outside of it there is no salvation. It will be of no benefit at all for those who point out this egregious sin to God on judgment day, for before every one who charges "hypocrite!", a mirror will be placed to receive the accusation. Yes, the church is full of hypocrites, liars, murderers, and other miscreants, who deserve nothing but everlasting darkness. Come and join us and be united in love with One who washes those past deeds with the cleanser of His saving blood. For there is one in the midst of the church who is not a hypocrite, liar, or fraud - Jesus Christ. If you come looking for Him in the church, you will find Him, and then all those around Him will appear radiantly different.

2 Comments:

Blogger Gina Burgess said...

Amen. While we were sinners, Jesus died for us. No one is worthy. So, yes, I will worship Him right along side a hypocrite because my worship is between me and God, not between me and the hypocrite.

5:38 PM  
Blogger Susan L. Prince said...

So true, so true.

I have had lengthy discussions with a person I am desperately trying to reach for the Lord. She is an intellect and a worshipper of Isis (which I always find somewhat amusing because I can't help but think if someone is so smart, why do they worship stuff made up in the minds of humans?) but, anyway, her biggest gripe about Christianity seems to stem from the hypocracy that is present.

I keep telling her that she can't look to people because we are all flawed. But, that's what those on the outside do and it drives me crazy! They look to the people and see sin! Duh!

Then I have to wonder what we are doing wrong that people don't see Christ in us or our churches?

12:21 PM  

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