What About Those
Conley's new “Evening
Today's cynical society and
culture presents a myriad of problems. One of the many
problems comes into focus whenever a diligent disciple tries
to do their duty in inviting someone to "Come and see" how
we worship and observe the house of the Master's brethren.
"Oh yeah? I don't want to go be around a bunch of
hypocrites." Depending on my mood, I may say something like,
"We've got room for one more." But, I readily admit that
this is not an ideal reply to such a statement. But, it does
remain a problem. So, what is to be done? Something?
Nothing? Doubtless, many of us have experienced frustrations
when trying to do our duty with the joy it deserves.
"hypocrite" is an interesting word, but its application is
probably slung about today by some too broadly. Without
going into a long etymology of the word, it comes from a
word associated in its past to describe stage actors and
thespians. When someone pretended to be something they
weren't, this word came into play. When Christ condemned the
Pharisees, scribes, and others repeatedly in Matthew 23, He
employed this word multiple times. Those religious leaders
were pretending to be many things they were not by not doing
things that they commanded others to do. I also submit that
they had no intention of doing those things from the start.
Enjoyment was had by them in commanding others , but they
themselves felt free to do as they pleased.
about this word, are churches full of hypocrites today?
While I would not discount the fact that actors of various
kinds have inhabited houses of worship down through the
centuries, observation seems to indicate that this word is
wielded from the hip like a six shooter to fire at any
stumbling that people see. For example, I know that church
members have struggled at times with various sins that
others see. Perhaps it is letting the mouth get loose.
Perhaps it is an overindulgence of the bottle. Whatever the
case, they may not be "acting" and "playing church" as much
as showing that they are still sinners with problems.
Bible is replete with examples of different types of
sinners. Generally, they can be put in two groups: penitent
and impenitent. You could make a case that the two groups
are willful and ignorant. However, even if someone is
ignorant, they will be either penitent or impenitent when
knowledge is gained of their stumbling. So, what do we make
of these two groups? In Luke 7 Jesus encounters both kinds.
He is dining in the house of Simon the Pharisee when a woman
of ill repute comes in and washes His feet with her tears.
Simon is shocked that Jesus - reputed to be a great teacher
and prophet - would allow such a tramp to touch Him. Jesus
instructs Him through a lesson about debtors. Simon's
problem was that - even though just as bankrupt in the sight
of God as the woman - felt less need than the woman did. In
this lesson, Simon was impenitent about his sins, while the
woman felt the weight and guilt over hers. Doubtless, she
was seen as worse in the eyes of society, while Simon's
standing was likely very high. But, Jesus points out that
Simon's behavior was hypocritical, while the woman exhibited
faith that delivered her from the guilt and sting that she
this example before us, do church members stumble?
Certainly, and the weight of that stumbling should cause a
sting within us. Does our stumbling make us hypocritical? I
suggest that it does not. However, if we willfully continue
in our stubborn path thinking that we are doing ok, then our
stumbling has led to a road that would be termed
hypocritical. Consider the life of Jesus. He was accused of
being a sinner repeatedly, and yet people still came to Him.
Why? His life contradicted the reputation. Reputations don't
go away immediately, but people kept seeing a manner of life
that dictated that the report was not true. When the blind
man was given sight by Christ in John 9, the religious
rulers tried to convince him that Jesus was a sinner. The
man simply stated that he knew not whether Jesus was a
sinner, but what he knew was simple and clear: I used to be
blind, now I see. What you're telling me about this man is
of less importance than what I know for sure. Translated to
today, we have the awesome responsibility and service of
love as the church of God to live in ways that contradict
the reputation that people may have of our home church or
religion in general. Sadly, our stumbling sometimes confirms
for those observing that they are justified in their own
mind to think the way they do. Yet, what power and impact
can be had when they see us actively trying to do better
than we have done in the past. Paul said in I Corinthians 13
that children act, speak, and think a certain way. When
people that knew me as a child saw me speak and walk, they
saw the manner of life of a child. Hopefully, they don't
still see me as a child, because enough "grown up" action
has been observed that I am no longer in that category.
People may have seen what they deemed hypocritical behavior
coming from churches, but may they see in us something that
defies everything they have ever thought about the matter
have the tall task of making people believe they are someone
they are really not. Sadly, our stumbling causes people to
believe we are something we are not. While perhaps not our
active intent, it is an unfortunate side effect. You and I -
friends - are children of the King! He has given us rich
garments to wear, and adornments richer than any earthly
magistrate has ever known or owned. Yes, we still have
pauper's rags in our closet too. When we adorn these
tattered ruins handed down through the ages from father
Adam, we may play the part of the beggar. But, let us who
are of the day, put on the garments of the day along with
the breastplate of faith and love coupled with the helmet of
salvation. (I Thessalonians 5:6-8)
yeah? I don't want to go be around a bunch of hypocrites?"
Yes, we are sinners, regrettably so. However, we're trying
as much as we know how to do better than we've ever done
before. No, our church isn't perfect, but she has a perfect
Ruler. We don't get every thing right, but He gave us
perfect rules to follow. Come and see friend. Come and see.
We're trying. Come try with us.