Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lent '08 - Day 6: Hypocrites

I wrote on Friday, 2/8 about meeting a guy on the street name John. We met up this morning and talked for a couple hours before work, and he shared about his experience with Christians. His cousin is supposedly a "super Christian". He's apparently always doing good stuff like mission trips, giving money, volunteering, sending Bibles, etc. In one conversation, John's cousin shared about how he and his wife love to go to the movies, but then stay and go to 2 or 3 additional movies. John questioned his cousin on the integrity of his actions. "Isn't that stealing?" he would ask. His cousin would laugh it off, but as John pushed him on it, he got defensive. John shared a couple of other stories, but his experience with many Christians was the dreaded H-word: hypocrisy.

Searching for hypocrisy/hypocrites in the Bible reveals some interesting results. Jesus is by far the biggest user of the term. He saw it in the Pharisees, and he called them out multiple times. The woes given to the Pharisees are fair warning for all to avoid the trait.

Jesus' warnings against the yeast of the Pharisees, hypocrisy (Luke 12:1), is given for good reason. I don't want to enumerate all the consequences for hypocrisy, but I do want to bring attention to impact it has on others. In John's cousin's case, all his time doing "good" stuff is rendered useless before John because of inconsistent behavior in some relatively small things. This is an important reminder for any of us who would hope that our lives impact other people.

That isn't to say that one's credibility is dependent on the absence of hypocrisy. I have no doubt that there are areas within my life that I'm unconscious of that are hypocritical. The important thing is how I will respond when these things are brought to my attention, either by man or by God. Imagine how John's answer to my question of what his experience with Christians has been like if his cousin had thanked John for bringing the whole movie theatre thing to his attention and committed to change his ways? If we're aware of anything in our life that is inconsistent with Christ and his way, then I believe full bore effort needs to be made to change no matter how "minor" and "socially acceptable" behavior.

To make this more concrete, let's say I've grown up downloading music and videos since high school. A friend makes it aware that I'm actually consuming media that I didn't pay for. He says, "Isn't that stealing? Is that one of the 10 commandments?" If fleeing from hypocrisy is my goal, I must give up this behavior and delete/purchase the this media I've already downloaded.

I don't want to be hypocritical in my discussion of hypocrisy. I hope that this talk would be acted upon when the occasions come, and I hope as well that people in my life would have the courage to point out my inconsistencies. If you notice hypocrisy in me, please by all means, let me know!

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