It was Jesus who said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27 NKJV).
I know what flashes in all our minds when we hear the word hypocrites, but think of it a little more. I’ve heard it defined as “an actor on the stage of life” and even Thayer’s Greek Lexicon would give credence to the idea of an actor. Actors perform.
I think of our churches today filled with hypocrites. How it must grieve God to know that; to know that many churchgoers who want to don the name “Christian” have sullied that title by performing. They have it down pat. They’ve been in church 10, 15, 25, 50, or 300 years and they have the little sayings down, don’t they? They’ve heard a sermon on every passage 3 times and know every cliche and hymn reference someone else makes. They give the little wink when they hear it that lets you know, they know. Or if you spend time talking to them they have an answer that although may have been genuine to someone at some time, now just is a shadow and pitiful rhetoric of the power it once referred to.
These people are like dolls that have a string on the back. You pull it and they have a canned answer. They probably have 20 or 30 of them, but if you stick around you’ll hear them all. Pull the string, “God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.” Pull the string, “I’m praying for ya.” Pull the string, “Trust in God.”
You see, there’s nothing wrong with most of these sayings (although I’ve heard enough with bad theology to pull my hair out) if they were backed by heart and a life lived to match, but most of it is just what that person has been trained to say… when someone pulls the string. (Even more so, it makes new comers or people seeking feel like they aren’t in on all the inside things. Read HERE for more on that idea.)
It’s us speaking grand words but living pitiful examples of the life we say we believe. It’s us saying one thing but doing something completely different. “Trust in God” in one breath and “I don’t know what to do about _____” in the next. Or even worse, “Well the Bible says not to _____ but I can’t help that. God knows I try my best.”
What’s trying my best? It’s performing… What are these sayings? Our lines. If we could perform our way into salvation, if Pentecost and the indwelling of the Spirit could be obtained based on our own actions, why did Jesus have to die on the cross? White washed tombs are what we become because we look and sound like Christians on the outside but on the inside we’re full of death and sin (really one and the same). We always draw the attention to what we’re doing and ourselves because we want people to notice how well we’re performing at life… which again, if that was what it was up to, why did Christ leave the majesty of Heaven?
I think this is extremely difficult for church leaders and pastors. You are praying all the time. You are speaking to groups all the time. You are having people come and ask you questions all the time. And you don’t want to sound unprofessional and like you don’t know, so you turn into a pull string Christian. You could pray the best prayer on your worst day the same as your best day because you know your lines. You could spend 20 minutes at least talking about anything because you’re in front of people and they obviously want to hear what you have to say… you’re the best performer. You practice in front of the mirror. You go over your prayer in your head before hand. Why? So that God recognizes how well your prayer is? Or so man will approve?
Does what you say and think come from your head or the Spirit that is dwelling in you? Is your ability to perform, even striving to live the 10 commandments, to the best of your ability going to get you into Heaven? Or the impartation of God living, breathing, and living in and through you going to give you eternal life? Why did Jesus have to die?
To save us; because God so loved us He couldn’t leave us in the state we were in. Thank you God for you Son, Jesus, and your Holy Spirit.