Monday, April 26, 2010

Practicing What We Believe

I visited a church yesterday and the pastor gave me lots of food for thought. I love when that happens. It's so "Christianese" to say something like, "I was drawn to that church", or "the Lord had a divine appointment with me there", so I won't say that. I will simply say that I'm glad I was there.

I went to the church because their newly appointed pastor was being installed. I appreciate taking in the different churches around town, and I thought the installation service would be a great opportunity to get to know the newest member of the religious community.

The new church leader had invited his childhood pastor to teach before his official installation. The wise older man talked about passing the torch. He said, "If the church does not PRACTICE what it believes, it will be succeeded by a generation that does not believe." Wow! That’ll preach!

I've talked to a myriad of people who grew up in the church, but who quit attending years ago. Many of them gave up on God altogether. The number one reason given is always the same—“I hate the hypocrisy”.

The church is full of hypocrites, and it has been this way since the beginning of time. Jesus often talked of the hypocrisy. He called it like it was and He never sugar coated the truth. I have no problem believing that if Jesus were the guest preacher in our church, He’d still bring our hypocrisy into the light—where it belongs. We are hypocrites. We love to evangelize and take the gospel to the “ends of the earth”, but we ignore the plank in our own eye.

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Matthew 7:5 (NIV)

We teach our kids to refrain from lying, stealing, gossiping, etc, but WE lie to our boss about being sick, steal paperclips and pens from the supply closet at work, and gossip about the husband who was seen having lunch with the female co-worker who was not his wife. Our kids have watched us have affairs, get divorced, gossip around the dinner table, and pass judgment on the parents of the school bully.

We are hypocrites. Everyone, say it together—we are hypocrites! Now, let’s apologize to our kids for setting bad examples of what being a Christ-follower really looks like.

I desire for God to shine a light into the hidden crevices of my heart and reveal my weaknesses. I want to deal with my own stuff. I want to really see the plank in my eye!

Get off the pew of hypocrisy and into the light of God’s word. We’ve got to practice what we say we believe so that the generation coming up behind us sees something worth believing in. Get off the pew!

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