Hypocrisy: the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.
Does this sound familiar?
This week on the blog we have talked about politics and the church. You can’t talk about either at length without touching on the subject of hypocrisy. Especially this week, especially with the volitile state of affair we find in our churches and in our country.
The picture above is of two men you may know. One is Al Franken, the other is Roy Moore. Both have been accused of sexual misconduct or assault but this is where their similarities end. One is self-proclaimed Christian, the other has not made such claims. One has dug in deep in light of accusations and accused their accusers of being liars, of being cheats or being conspirators. The other simply apologized for their wrongdoings. Can you guess who did what?
Now you might assume that the one who claimed to follow Jesus would be the one who sought reconciliation, but you would be wrong…
The church is accused of it and as most of you are aware, this week we see how many politicians are the definition of it. To be completely transparent and fair, let’s talk in depth about the church first.
We are hypocrites. We do the opposite of the things Jesus called us to do in His sermon on the mount. Perhaps we don’t murder, but we have hate in our hearts. Maybe we don’t commit adultery, but we have lust issues. We critique the rest of the world on who we think should or shouldn’t marry while we desecrate the sanctity of marriage with a divorce rate of 50%. We are called not to pledge allegiance to anything but God and then lose our tempers over NFL players who don’t stand for the National Anthem. We have a hard time turning the other cheek, especially because of how many of us love our guns. It is also difficult for us to love our enemies because we would rather default to loving people that are like us. If this makes no sense then read Matthew 5 to see how real followers of Jesus are supposed to act.
Now, on behalf of the church, I would like to say sorry.
Sorry we aren’t better at following Jesus’ teachings without compromise. Sorry we pick and choose what things we like and dislike, and in turn what things we choose to condemn others for not adhering to. Sorry we don’t follow the Golden Rule enough and take serious Jesus’ words when he said:
Matthew 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
The Bible teaches of holding ourselves accountable, and not putting our own personal convictions on others. It also speaks of those who claim to follow Jesus taking very seriously that claim, because they will be held to it. So again, I want to apologize for all the times the church has fallen short, how Jesus’ followers, how Christians have failed time and time again to be the people Jesus wants us to be. I could come up with a bunch of excuses but it wouldn’t matter. All I can say is I get it, and I’m not going to rest, not going to sit back and let the name of Jesus be tarnished.
When we fall, when we fail, we are going to get back up and evaluate why. Then we are going to try again, try harder, try better to take Jesus’ words seriously.
Normally, I would steer clear of pointing a finger, but in light of recent events, I can’t remain silent. Here is why:
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
See, Jesus tells us not to judge in Matthew 7, and the word judge here is a picture of being in a courtroom passing a sentence. This judgment Jesus is speaking against is a condemning judgment, as in, “you are going to hell if you do _____.” The church has done too much of this in the past, has held culture to standards that culture didn’t agree to be held to. However, like Jesus’ words above state, the church, or anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus, must be held accountable for that.
In the news today, and every day for that matter, are politicians who claim to be Christians. They claim to have faith in Jesus, claim to lead their lives in light of the convictions they have because of their beliefs. Some even say ridiculous things like, “No one reads the Bible more than me.”
If that were the case, their lives would show evidence of it. But it doesn’t.
So as Jesus said, we must go and point out their fault, in private. Honestly, I don’t know how that works with the whole federal government thing. I can only hope that somewhere along the lines someone close to these politicians has said something to them about their hypocrisy. I can only hope that at some point, someone has said something about the terrible things that have become commonplace in Washington DC.
I can only hope that those who claim to follow Jesus have stopped letting their lust turn into sexual assault.
I can only hope that they have decided not to speak with hate, but have instead shown love even to their enemies.
I can only hope that they have decided to hold themselves to the same standards they are so quick to hold others to when it comes to things like marriage, adultery, and where their allegiances lie.
I can only hope that our leaders, who say one thing yet do another, can learn from these mistakes, can learn to stop casting judgment and take a hard look in the mirror at their own shortcomings.
If not, then we must treat them like a pagan or tax collector, which is with love. Love for those who clearly don’t share your beliefs based on the way they live their lives. Love that extends mercy, grace, and holds no accountability because accountability is only for those who strive to be authentic followers of Jesus. Love like Jesus had for those who opposed Him every step of the way, who didn’t get it even after Jesus regularly explained it to them clearly.
Love, which may not be easy, but is required of a follower of Jesus nonetheless.
Leading by example
Jesus said this:
Jesus said to his disciples, “Things that cause people to trip and fall into sin must happen, but how terrible it is for the person through whom they happen. 2 It would be better for them to be thrown into a lake with a large stone hung around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to trip and fall into sin. 3 Watch yourselves! If your brother or sister sins, warn them to stop. If they change their hearts and lives, forgive them. 4 Even if someone sins against you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times and says, ‘I am changing my ways,’ you must forgive that person.”
It’s a charge to all leaders who claim to be “godly.”
Or stop saying you are a follower of Jesus because honestly, the church has enough problems to deal with… we don’t need to have any more added to the workload.
If you follow Jesus, then be held accountable for His teachings. If you don’t, then don’t. I don’t care if you are a burger flipper at McDonald’s, a school teacher, an ER Doctor, or the President of the United States. If you claim to follow Jesus, then I expect your life to reflect His teachings. If it doesn’t, then as Jesus taught, I must say something.
If you don’t follow Jesus, then again I am sorry. I am sorry for how convoluted His message must seem based on all those who claim to follow Him. It must be confusing to see so many who claim Christ to turn a blind eye to such evil, such hypocrisy.
We are called to hold ourselves to a higher standard, to honor the words of Jesus by taking them seriously. Otherwise, we run the risk of making Jesus, the Son of God, look like a liar.
This I cannot abide… So I will speak up, not to be political, but to call on those who claim to be followers to live authentically and to have integrity. I hope you will join me.
Until next time…