Christians are hypocrites. This is an interesting title for a talk, isn't it? Just to pre-warn you there maybe one or two "ouch" moments today. So prepare yourselves.
One of the big problems that those outside the church have with people who say they are Christians, is the level of hypocrisy that they see. Christians are hypocrites. They say one thing, and then they do something completely different. Why don't they just practice what they preach? Well, that's what we're going to get into today. are Christians hypocrites. And is it hypocritical to call someone a hypocrite? The only person really qualified to answer this question is Jesus, which is exactly what he does in today's passage.
Jesus also taught beware of the teachers of religious law, for they like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings as they walk into the marketplaces, and how they love the seats of honour in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. And yet, they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be more severely punished.
Being a hypocrite then is like wearing a mask, it's trying to present a different picture on the outside to what's on the inside. Graham Marsh said that the opposite of hypocrisy is not perfection, but authenticity. And one of the things we really want as a society these days is authenticity, transparency, and openness. So let me ask you, do you think you are authentic as a person? What about the Christians that you know? Are they authentic? See what I mean about 'Ouch'. Because really, if I'm going to challenge someone about hypocrisy about being authentic, then I first have to look at myself. For example, if we as parents tell our kids not to lie, but then spend time creating lies to tell them just to 'protect' them. That is hypocrisy. We become like the Pharisees.
We judge others by what their actions are, by what they say and what they do. But we judge ourselves by our intentions, and maybe that's the heart of it right there. Let me say that, again. We judge others by what their actions are, what they say and what they do. But we judge ourselves by our intentions.
So the other side of this is about justice, what's right, and fair. And when I read the story of Jesus calling out the hypocrisy, because the Pharisees shamelessly cheated widows out of their property. I think that is not right. That's not fair. Where is the justice? Now? We loved the kids say the funniest things over Christmas. So I thought I asked my friends to do another one for us. So this time I asked them, can you think of something that's happened that's really unfair? And here's what they had to say.
- After lockdown, my brother went to the hairdressers. And he got sweeties but then during lockdown when my mom cut my hair, she took a big chunk off, she didn't give me any sweets
- I think it's unfair when people cheat the games.
- (Watch the video for the rest!)
Wasn't that brilliant? Thanks so much, guys for getting involved. Again. I've loved your answers. Remember when you were little and you thought it was so unfair to have to go to bed early. Now I can't wait to go to bed.
So you can see from a very early age, we have a sense of justice, what's fair and what's not. As a primary school teacher, I hear this all the time. He got to go first. It's not fair. She's already had a turn. It's not fair. And I don't think that that change as much as grown-ups either. I think maybe we just say it in a different way.
I was on a motorway driving speed awareness course recently. And the first question people asked Was, did everyone who was speeding that day get fined? And it's that inbuilt sense of justice we have that feels aggrieved if we perceive something as unfair. And there are different levels of justice as well aren't there. Sometimes it can be something simple like losing a game and thinking it was unfair because someone else had an advantage. But sometimes, it's the more important things in life, like the injustice of people not having somewhere to live or food to eat.
Sometimes it's really hard to live with something that feels unjust to you, especially when you have a really good mental message to that person prepared in your mind. A couple of weeks ago, someone did something that really hurt a friend of mine, and I spent a good hour composing a mental message to them, it was full of witty comments, emotive language, enough insults to let them know how upset I was. But the perfect combination of examples of how they let this person down. And I continue to imagine them receiving the text, dropping to their knees, begging for forgiveness and promising to change their ways. Public apology would follow on all platforms of social media, and I would feel justice had been served. Even as is playing out this scenario in my mind and thinking, and it's not that bad. The fact that I was planning this talk suddenly hit me. Life is unfair and unjust. People are fallible, and they let us down. And I can either choose to be as bad as them and retaliate, or do the opposite, and maybe even try to wish them well. Ouch. That's tough. And I definitely can't do that without help. So I'm going to need some help.
Now, I'm not saying that we shouldn't stand up to injustice and speak out for what's right, of course, we should. James Sloan talking about Imagine if trust a couple of weeks ago, is the perfect example of that. And there's so much injustice in the world. And we need to make a stand against it. Imagine if you're doing a fabulous job with that. The different projects that they run, and you can find out more or get involved with them, then just check out the Imagine If website. In this passage, Jesus tells us not to be like the religious leaders not to be hypocritical, but he knows that we will sometimes fail at this. And he offers us grace and forgiveness. Some people do awful things and claim that they are doing it for God things that God wouldn't want anyone to do, let alone do it in his name.
And the Crusades as an example of this 100,000s of people killed. And they were called holy wars. But actually, it was a way of getting more money, how hypocritical. Some people claim that they are Christians, literally followers of Christ, and yet there is far away from the Jesus I know as possible. Gandhi said, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians, they are so unlike your Christ", ouch.
Maybe you see everything that's happening in the world by people who claim to be Christians, and you think I don't want to be any part of that. And if that's the case, I would urge you not to judge God, by what you see and hear people do. Jesus is with you on this one. So if you're not a Christian, and one of your chief blockages is the fact that you see Christians being hypocritical, then you're in good company. Jesus also calls out hypocrisy and people, especially those who profess to be God's people. Then there are people who do love God and are trying to become more like Jesus but they are also human, and so aren't perfect, not even close to perfect.
All of us sometimes do or say the wrong thing. We hurt people we gossip, we lie. If you're looking for a model of perfection, you are not going to find it in me or anyone else whether they claim to be a Christian or not. If you want to know what being perfect looks like, you need to look at Jesus. He never messes up or gets stuff wrong. He knows what a perfect looks like. A perfect life looks like it means loving God perfectly loving each other perfectly. That's a tall order, isn't it? And what I hope to get better at day by day when I can only get better at With his help. So to sum up, here's a lovely four-point acrostic for the word JUST.
- J is for Jesus, Jesus is the true example of leading a perfect life, study his life for how we should live and how we should treat people.
- U, okay, it's a bit of a dodgy one here, but go with me. U can't control other people's actions, but you can control your own.
- S, sorry, we need to be good at saying sorry. and quick to say sorry, and
- T for teachable. If we stay teachable and open to correction, then we're on the road to being more like Jesus.