Probably one of the biggest hurdles the church faces even today is the issue of hypocrisy. Think of your friends and neighbors who do not have a church home. Many of those folks have made that choice on purpose. There is a growing sense that we don’t need church so long as we have Jesus.
To not be surrounded by a church family can isolate you in your journey of faith. As you build your relationship with Jesus, it can be so much more rewarding to be in the company of other believers. There is a special bond. We are all part of the family of God, and the intimacy is hard to describe.
For those going it alone or even worse, those that don’t know Jesus at all, there is an emptiness, a longing, common to these folks. I’ve heard it described as the God Hole. Something is obviously missing from their lives. If not God, God’s people.
Over the years, I’ve heard many people voice their concerns over the “church”. The church is not a building, but a group of people gathered to worship God. That group is responsible for (1) living the great commandment – to love God completely, with heart, soul, and mind, and to love others as themselves, and for (2) carrying out the great commission – to tell others about Jesus and how he loves them.
But, because the church is made of up of sinful people, the “church” gets a bad rap. People stumble. People on the outside see this group of people (church) and see sinners. What makes them special. But is a little more than that. It’s when you pretend to be something you’re not. When we look at those people and know they are part of a church, what word is often heard? Hypocrite. That’s a strong word, a label you might say. Nobody wants to be labeled a hypocrite.
After years of being around church people in different areas of the country, and now world, I have seen my share of hypocrites, I’m afraid. Folks that show up on Sunday dressed for success. They go through the motions for the hour or two they are attending worship, but as soon as they get back to their lives, the happy face mask comes off and their relationship with Jesus is the last thing on their minds. Evil has gripped them again. It’s not their fault, but they just don’t get how important God is to their life.
That is probably the hardest thing about being in ministry– watching people waste their lives not knowing the life saving presence of God. An hour on Sunday morning is not enough to ignite the flame to continue burning. I know that even in the last year, spending more time in prayer and reflection, quality time with God, I feel better, I sleep better, I relate better to others, I am growing. That’s what God desires for us. To draw closer to him.
Interesting what Jesus says here. In one verse, he tells us to “Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell.” Yet a couple verses he said, “don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” I am more valuable to God than a bunch of birds, I know that. He even knows the number of hairs on my head, and your head, and the next guy. He knows us. We need to know him and appreciate (fear) his power.
Say this out loud several times: “I am valuable to God.”
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be ridiculed for my faith than found to be a hypocrite. I know I’m a sinner, and that keeps my humility in check. I need God. I need a Savior. I want everyone to feel that empty feeling, knowing that something is missing in their life. They won’t find happiness in things, only God can bring true joy.
Let’s pray. Lord, you are so amazing. I can’t fathom how you can know how many hairs are on my head. And I’m just one person! That you love me so completely, despite my faults and failures, is also such a blessing. I thank you for your faithfulness. No matter what you stand ready to forgive when I ask. Cleanse my heart of evil thoughts and desires so that I can be emptied of those things that will limit me from growing closer to you. I do fear you with the awe and respect you deserve. Thank you for living inside me, giving me the passion for life. That’s you burning inside me! I give my all to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.