Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hypocrites in the Church

Ah, the most referenced claim of the unchurched, or so "they" say. And it is well founded, if you have been in many of today's typical churches.

I read a Facebook status a few weeks ago that made me think of how we use social networking to leverage ourselves and our image in terms of how people in our family of faith, or just people in general view us. Having recently just resigned from our church and moved to another ministry, we realized the hardship on us and others that it brought. And some what spread, or at least made worse on FB.

Not relating to our situation at all, this post was right on target from neither the offender, nor the instigators, and it read like this, "It's funny how different real life is from the life we portray on Facebook. Some more than others." And it was very thought provoking to me. One of the reasons was that Jesus was so hard on the hypocrites.

So I looked up the passages where Jesus spoke on them (the "two-faced ones").  Jesus usually made one of two points.  One was that they did things to seek the glory of man.  And the other, which we most often don't see is that he spoke to them as people who had missed the point. We think of hypocrites as people who intentionally say one thing and mean another. And the bible has clear warnings about those people too. But Jesus' teaching is pretty clear, the hypocrites, at least some of the time, thought they were doing right; thought they were doing what God wanted them to do.

So, it made me think about a few conclusions. 1) God will never share His glory with another, Isaiah 42:8. For us to do things, anything, just so that men will see them is to rob God of that glory.  Is it OK for people to see our good works?  Sure, but if our intentions convict us, our God will not accept our sacrifice.  And His glory is the point of the existence of all things, so He takes it pretty seriously.  Glory-theives beware!

2) Correct biblical teaching is so important, not only in specifics, but in overall themes and theologies. We MUST get it RIGHT!  Interpreting truth wrongly is not an excuse, or at least Jesus didn't think so. Solid teaching, books (fresh ones and old ones), and historical men and women who have lived them are our guides. AND there is a much needed place for the community of believers, studying, interpreting, and living out these bible passages daily together. Again, as per my last post, requires face to face contact. This helps guard us from hypocrisy.

3) What helps us on Facebook is to "hide" the people that you know stir things up. Newsflash: You don't have to see what they are saying!  We are called to do all that we do to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). God hates those who stir up trouble among the brethren (Proverbs 6:19). We are told to set our minds on things of loveliness and peace (Philippians 4:8), as well as forgiveness. Reading others spewing bitterness isn't helpful. There is a nice little function on there called "Hide."

4) Let's begin to do all that we can do to promote a culture of honesty, openessness, vulnerability among the family of faith. We have become accustomed to isolation, and therefore are usually fine with surface level relationships and acquaintences. We must make time to dig deep with each other, and that sometimes gets messy. Let's face it, we all do what's important to us. And its easier to stay out of others lives. We have enough problems in our own, right? But the bible commands us to

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:9–18)

Time is short (and valuable)! Gaze upon Christ and get lost in his word with his people. Use Facebook for what God created it for (yes, God created it), and all else that exists, (Romans 11:33-36), and he maintains it (Col 1:16-17), to upbuild, encourage, connect, pray for, evangelize, and minister to his glory.

AND ALSO get out there and intertwine the realness of your life with others, be willing to hear their story (all of it) and minister the word to them!  Really knowing people with an everyday, honest, open Christianity tends to restrain hypocrisy.  It's easy to restrain yourself sometimes, but it's hard not to be real all the time.

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