Matthew R. Perry

If Jesus Is So Wonderful, Why Are His Followers Such Jerks? Part II: Question Reveals a Deeper Hurt

In Evangelism on September 20, 2007 at 3:45 pm

(Be sure and read the introduction and Part I or you can listen to the sermon in its entirety.)

Look with me at Matthew 23:13-15. Matthew 23 concludes some rather contentious sections in this Gospel where Jesus and the Pharisees are standing toe-to-toe during the week of the Passover. They ask Jesus difficult questions about the Law, but Jesus answers them in a way that cuts through the question to the heart and the motive of the matter. They became ones who were experts in the law and the doctrine of the Scriptures

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. [24] You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

Only heaven truly knows the damage this type of thinking does and the type of hurt this inflicts. When we find ourselves becoming more concerned about majoring on the minors than on the majors — which is ministering the name of Christ by loving them in Christ. When we find ourselves speaking truth, believing truth, and dispensing truth with a cold and calculated heart and not the warmth of the love of Christ, we risk dispensing hurt and heartache that will in the end drive people away from the church. But how many souls have been injured by hypocritical spirits who say one thing and live another way? Many who bring charges like this against churches and Christians do so because of something painful that happened in the past.

Author James Spiegel relays a time when he was a teenager. He and his friend made money cutting grass in their neighborhood.

On one occasion a friend and I approached a man who lived across the street from my house and asked him if he would allow us to cut his lawn. He agreed and offered to pay us $25 for the job, nothing that he would be gone for the weekend and would therefore pay us upon his return. That Saturday my friend and I worked for several hours, but because it was a rather large lawn, we had to finish it on Sunday. The next day we returned to obtain our wages from the man. In hopes that he would be impressed by our labor, we informed him that it took us two days to get the job done. “Two days?” he asked. “You mean to tell me that you mowed my lawn on Sunday?” We nodded. “Well, boys, I don’t allow work to be done at my house on Sundays. I can’t pay you.” We watched him as he dug into his pocket and pulled out approximately two dollars in change. He handed it to us, saying, “I’m doing this out of the kindness of my heart.”

In stunned silence my friend and I sauntered back into my house and informed my father as to what had just transpired. He was irate. “Hypocrites … lousy hypocrites!” he bellowed. “They smile so sweetly and look so righteous at church, but in the real world they’re nothing but swindlers and cheats.”[1]

This story is pretty true-to-form to many other stories those in our cultures have about how Christians say one thing and practice another in their relationships. While they may overstate things about how all Christians look righteous but are actually cheats, instead of us simply looking at what they are saying, we need to see what’s behind it: a lot of hurt and betrayal of trust by people who promise to love and care, but who didn’t follow through on that.

All of us know of people who may not come to our churches for various reasons, don’t we? They may be members of our churches. Yet, they just don’t come. If you were to invite them, some of them may respond to you that they just don’t like “Institutional religion” or “I just can’t stand all those hypocrites up there.” Don’t blow them off! Don’t write them off as not worth your time. There is a deeper hurt that’s there and we as the body of Christ and for the sake of their souls need to seek and find exactly what the issue is so healing can commence.

__________

[1]James S. Spiegel.  Hypocrisy: Moral Fraud and Other Vices (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999), 25.  Quoted in Randy Newman’s Questioning Evangelism.  P. 191.   

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