Why are We Like This?
How efficient are we in displaying Christ-likeness to the world? It is often said that the #1 reason people don’t want to be involved or attend church is because the church is filled with hypocrites. We fight this in our minds knowing we are a part of a church so that means us. But if it is the number one reason could there be some truth to it? I have been pondering this not only as a believer but as a minister who endeavors to display and function in His love for people. I believe it is our number one call.
The term hypocrite, which was used by Jesus, means to be a play actor. Jesus accused the religious sector of His day of this often.
Essentially, Jesus was saying your intentions are not matching your actions. What you are professing to believe is not being translated into corresponding actions. We see Jesus most upset, not with the demonic presence of His day, but with the religious who were giving a false representation of the God they professed to serve.
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation” (Matt 23:13-14 NKJV).
This is only two of seventeen times in the Gospels Jesus addresses the religious this way! So if Jesus was outspoken about His disdain for putting on a pretense of our beliefs, why are we like this? Why are judgement, criticism, and partiality so prevalent in our places of faith? Why do we think its ok?
When we see someone struggling in their faith, their life, their families, or they begin withdrawing from the church – why don’t we respond like Jesus and go after the one (Luke15)? Instead we begin to make conjectures of what’s going on and “they ought not to be…..” but we never go to them. Why are we like this? Why aren’t we quick to ask: are you ok? Is there a way I can pray for you? How can I help with your kids? Do you need a break? How can I help or support you in this season? What if we prayed more than we gossiped? What if we cared enough to engage and ask? Why are we like this?
Often we lethargically sit aloof in our own self-righteousness and assume we know what is happening when we have no idea what someone is going through. Where is our concern? Where is our compassion? Where is our desire to understand, love, and support? Where is our heart to see people flourish in the kingdom of God? Why are we like this?
Jesus cared enough to leave heaven and seek for us. He didn't stand far away and think about how lost we were. He came where we were. I believe this is what Jesus meant by 70 x 7. In context of Matthew chapter 18 Jesus is teaching about forgiveness but I believe this translates into a mindset we are to have for one another. When Jesus said we are to forgive 7 x 70 times He wasn’t saying we were to keep track up to 490. This is a Hebraic expression for infinity. We are to infinitely love others; pursue wholeness for them and their relationship to the body. Jesus was frustrated with the religious because they weren’t modelling the beliefs they professed. How often we are less like Him than many people that don't even claim Him as their Savior. Frequently we are the last ones to take care of our own. So many are longing to belong, to be accepted, and loved. The church ought to be the best at this. Let’s really love like Jesus in reality and not pretense. Let’s accept, love, cherish, and care for one another in greater measures displaying His character through our lives.
Father, my heart senses the divide between what I believe and what I do. Help my actions match heart. Make me a gatherer rather than a scatterer. Help me to look for the one who needs your love and compassionate heart today.