Hypocrites are handy to have around.
If your goal is to discredit the church, hypocrites-in-the-church is a plea that seems always to work for you. Who can deny that there are people who say they are Christ-followers who are faking it—putting on a front? Their outward appearance is a mask hiding an inner reality that bears no relation to the Man from Galilee.
For critics, no matter how much paint there is around, there is still only one brush so we all get painted with it.
- “Christians” are Bible-thumping bigots, gun-toting morons trafficking in hate and self-interest.
- All “preachers” are fakes—snake oil salesmen, charlatans, money-grubbing showmen or slick, sick imposters one jump ahead of the law.
- Small churches are little covens of ignorance singing silly songs and teaching who knows what.
- Mega Churches are empires of opulence providing members with luxuries while the hungry go without on their doorsteps, collecting buckets of cash each week to buy their preacher another airplane.
Yeah, yeah—hypocrites are handy to have around if what you want to do is feel superior and un-holier than thou.
Forego the Mask
But, if you want to really follow Christ, no mask is needed for there is nothing to hide. You wear your heart on your face.
- You don’t thump your Bible, you read it. More than that, you let the Bible read you—changing you from the inside out.
- You may or may not have a gun somewhere, but if you do, you are far from stupid with it.
- You traffic in love, not hate with a documented record of giving and compassion to prove it if need be.
Real preachers are called of God to learn the truth and how to tell it, no matter where that takes them.
- They have no interest in career ladders or the applause of an audience.
- They have a story to tell, a Kingdom to represent—one of love in the midst of hate, of light shining out of darkness, of integrity in the face of corruption, and of peace from strife.
- They aren’t interested in publicity but in the public ministry of Jesus in a hurting world.
The Real Thing
Real men and women of God have a single, shining moment in mind—the one that counts—the one in which they kneel before Jesus and wait to hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” They measure all career choices against this moment.
Churches, large, small, or somewhere in between, are collections of people:
- the true and the false,
- the hypocrites and the real,
- the strugglers and stragglers,
- the untested and the proven,
- the fallen and the restored,
- the rich, the poor, and that all-powerful middle class that wins elections.
Churches collect money and spend it; most of the time they spend it well. No one can calculate the good done by the least of these churches in the communities they serve. No government could afford to step in and cover for the works of believers if they were suddenly absent from the scene—which someday soon they will be!
So, Christ-followers! Be real—Jesus is! Be present—Jesus is! Be true—Jesus is!
Come to think of it—Christ-followers are handy to have around!
Psalm 26 NIV
Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth. I do not sit with deceitful men, nor do I consort with hypocrites; I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked. I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, O Lord, proclaiming aloud your praiseand telling of all your wonderful deeds. I love the house where you live, O Lord, the place where your glory dwells. Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with bloodthirsty men, in whose hands are wicked schemes, whose right hands are full of bribes. But I lead a blameless life; redeem me and be merciful to me. My feet stand on level ground;in the great assembly I will praise the Lord.
1 John 4:1-3 NIV
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
Matthew 6:2, 5, 16 NIV
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting.
Matthew 15:6-9 NIV
Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'”
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Lord Jesus, this world doesn’t need another pretender, another poser, checking the mirror in mind to make sure his appearance is just right. The world needs another genuine person, one of truth not fakery, peace not strife, humility not pride. You were that person when You walked this earth. Walk this earth again today in me. May Your reality shine through my humanity. This is what the world needs. It is what I need, too. Amen and Amen.
Just a Closer Walk with Thee
1. I am weak but Thou art strong
Jesus keep me from all wrong
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee
Refrain: Just a closer walk with Thee
Grant it Jesus, is my plea
Daily walking close to Thee
Let it be dear Lord, let it be
2. When my feeble life is over
Time for me will be no more
Guide me gently, safely over
To Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore
Keep Me True
Keep me true, Lord Jesus, keep me true.
Keep me true, Lord Jesus, keep me true.
There’s a race that I must run.
There are victories to be won.
Give me power every hour to be true.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved