Then Jesus spoke to the multitude and to His disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things, and do not do them. Matthew 23 1-3 (New American Standard Bible)
As Christians most of us have heard “Oh, I don’t go to church. Christians are all a bunch of hypocrites.” I have to agree there are many hypocritical people in the church. Where else would you find them? The word hypocrite is a word that comes from the ancient Greek stage that is defined as ‘an actor under an assumed character-a stage player.’ It is true there have been people within the church who have injured its good name by their hypocritical actions and I have no defense for it. In fact, I am ashamed of the many actions people have taken in the name of Christ that have hurt others and were totally opposed to His heart and teaching.
Jesus hates hypocrisy. He was constantly reproaching the scribes and Pharisees for it. Unfortunately our sin nature still persists and is revealed through some Christians as the opposite of Christ presenting arrogance, judgment and mistrust of God’s goodness. Jesus is in no way like that and never has been!
In the church and on the stage of life there will always be crafty actors who say ‘Do as I say and not as I do.’ As His followers Jesus tells us to let our lives radiate with brilliancy before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). We do that by loving God with all our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength (Luke 10:27). The Church isn’t broken but it is imperfect. Even so it will never lose its power (Matthew 16:18). Speaking of hypocrisy in the church the Christian leader, Michael Green, has to say of it; “You cannot get away from it. From now on your lot is cast with the Christian church. Where it is corrupt, purge it. Where it is slack, enliven it. Where it is right, follow it.”*
*Michael Green, Avoiding Jesus: answers for skeptics, cynics and the curious, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2004-2005, 185