Friday, October 17, 2014

I am a Hypocrite

Have you ever felt like a hypocrite? like those around you seem to hold you in such high esteem, yet you feel as if you're really just a let-down?  I certainly feel that at times.  I may teach a Bible class, I may author this blog; but when I look at my life, sometimes I think Wow, I still am so far from where I should be.  I've gotten so many things wrong.  I'm a hypocrite.

Jesus talked a lot about hypocrites, actually.  In Matthew chapter 23, He addresses them with "Woe to you," "Woe to you," "Woe to you" (Matthew 23:13, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29).  Six times He uses this phrase.  Jesus definitely isn't happy with hypocrites.  

So what does it mean to be a hypocrite?  A definition of a hypocrite is "a person who claims to have moral standards or beliefs to which his own behavior does not conform."  Ouch.  According to this definition, I suppose we're all hypocrites.

Or are we?  Although Christianity is not merely a moral standard, the Bible does lay out quite the formidable standard: perfection, basically.  To be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  So why didn't Jesus just say "Woe to everyone," since none of us are perfect?

Quite fortunately, our moral perfection (or lack thereof) is not what gets us to heaven.  The perfection of Christ, who took our place, is what allows us to enter into the glory of the Father.  The miracle of the gospel is that we don't have to be perfect in and of ourselves in order to be saved, nor do we claim to be perfect.  

You see, that was the problem of the Scribes and Pharisees, whom Jesus regularly called hypocrites.  They claimed to follow the law, to be perfect, essentially, but their behavior was far from it.  For us as Christians, however, perfection is our goal, not our requirement.  We claim to continually submit to Christ, and so we should do.  We claim to allow Him to change us each day, and so we should do.

We are not hypocrites.  I am not a hypocrite.  You are not a hypocrite.  We may make mistakes, but we can take them to Christ (1 John 1:9, 2:1).  However, this is far from an excuse to keep on sinning (Romans 6:1).  Don't let your failures leave you depressed, feeling like a hypocrite.  Use them as a reminder of your perpetual need for the grace of Jesus Christ, and find joy as He continually removes those things so that you and I can become the instruments He has created us to be.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

When the Nation Crumbled

In the book of 1 Kings, during the course of chapters 11 and 12, we find a very didactic - yet not-so-often-told - account of a pinnacle point in the history of the nation of Israel.

The story takes place just after the death of one of the most famous kings: Solomon, who was not only the wisest king, but the wealthiest as well.  However, even this did not secure his dedication to the Lord.  Sadly, Solomon turned his back on the very One who had lifted him up to greatness (1 Kings 11:1-10).  But I digress.

When Solomon died, his son, Rehoboam, began to reign (1 Kings 11:43).  Soon thereafter, Jeroboam (who was a servant of Solomon) and many others came to Rehoboam, asking him to lighten their workload (1 Kings 12:1-4).  And as any newbie to the throne might do, Rehoboam decided to consult some people for advice.

This is where things begin to escalate.  King Rehoboam consulted two different groups: the older men, who had been with his father Solomon, and the younger men, Rehoboam's peers.  The older men advised Rehoboam to lighten the workload (an advantageous political move), but his friends told him to show his might by increasing the workload (1 Kings 12:6-11).

We, nearly 3,000 years later, can find ourselves in a surprisingly parallel predicament.  With each passing generation in our culture, the separation and tension between the older and younger Christians of the Church increases formidably.  Each side pushes at the other, further widening the dichotomy.

While there are many aspects of this cultural divide and many ways in which the Church can and does fight against it, the story of Rehoboam gives us an amazingly beneficial lesson.  You see, Rehoboam chose to listen to his peers.  As a result, God's chosen ones underwent a painful split that separated the people into Israel and Judah, severing the nation.

As young adults in the Family and Body of our Lord and Savior, was must realize what is at stake.  We have to bridge the generational gap by earnestly seeking to learn from those who have been blessed with experiences and wisdom that we do not have (Titus 2:1-8, Proverbs 19:20).  Don't shy away from tuning your ear to the counsel of the wise.