When We Live Like No One Is Watching (Pt. 2)
Christians. We are our own worst enemies.
For generations of people who have either fled the Church or never bothered to give it a chance, the number one reason they always give is that the Church is "full of hypocrites." It's a generalized, and perhaps stereotypical statement, to be sure. But maybe we've earned it.
According to author and church futurist Dave Kinnaman, we are setting ourselves up for failure by focusing on all of the wrong things--rules, regulations, appearances, etc.. He writes, "We have set the gameboard to register lifestyle points; then we are surprised to be trapped by our mistakes. The truth is we have invited the hypocrite image.”
And sometimes our actions can have far-reaching and deep repercussions. An offhand comment... a juicy bit of gossip we share without thinking... a moment of temper... These seemingly harmless acts can land on someone who might be struggling in their faith, or who are looking for more reasons to hold God at arms length.
Some time ago, I heard someone talking about a nationally known pastor in a successful church, who had done and said some pretty awful things. He'd acted like a jerk, and demonstrated a tremendous amount of arrogance and a decided lack of Christlike love.
They concluded their tirade by saying, "This is why I can't stand Christians."
I found myself angrily judging this popular pastor for his actions--adopting a fairly superior, holier-than-thou attitude in the process. And then it hit me how easily you can become what you despise. I began thinking about all the ways I've caused people to stumble because of my own arrogance, and I had to repent.
By definition a hypocrite is someone who proclaims one truth, but then lives another. One dictionary entry I read for the word hypocrite includes this description: "a plaster saint."
I've had my own share of "plaster saint" moments. There have been plenty of people over the years, who have not seen me at my best, or who were looking to catch me at my worst. Either way, I am sure I have disappointed more than my share of them. The truth is, we all have.
In Acts chapter 4, the religious leaders in Jerusalem question Peter and John about preaching the Good News. In Acts 4:13 we get this: "When they saw the courage of Peter and John...they were astonished and took note that these men had been with Jesus."
May you find ways today to demonstrate Christian love, mercy and hope by your words and your deeds. May you live your life in such a way that people will take note that you have been with Jesus. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.