Words of Hope: Truth or Hypocrisy Awakened
I recently watched a movie about a man who demands a perfect world to the point he abuses others to achieve it. Perfection is so seductive. It is another form of will, to power and control instead of surrender and love. It’s easily noticed in certain churches and families — the move from inward transformation toward outward conformity. Christ redeems us and we live in this joy with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Soon, we drift from our source of joy, peace, hope, truth, wisdom and we start to miss the fruits. Then we begin to manufacture the work of the Holy Spirit. We attempt to police our homes and churches with moralism. Isn’t it amazing that Nietzsche is the product of generations of pastors?
In this climate of moralism, as Paul Tournier says, “Grace becomes conditional. Judgment appears. Anyone who does not subscribe to certain standards is suspected of infidelity and hypocrisy. And that is what awakens hypocrisy.” A parent secretly harboring his own inner sins, demands perfection of his children, who being human, cannot live up to his standard of perfection. Thus, the system of hypocrisy is born.
Hypocritical faith emerges from a desire to appear holier than we are. It emerges in fear to avoid the critical gaze of those in authority. It emerges from working to create a policy of morality. The fruits of the Spirit, which come from the seeds of real and authentic worship, change to the fruit of hypocrisy birthed from the seeds of legalism. As we hide or ignore our sins and seek the judgment or reform of others, the wonder of grace becomes constraint, obligation, or fear of criticism which leads to a pathological dread of taboos.
As with all taboos, the more pathological our fear, the deeper and darker their hold on our lives. When anxiety about appearing wrong enters our churches we create a need to appear perfect and eliminate honest confession. Is it any wonder that by far the most pornographic content sold at hotels are during Christian conferences?
Dad worked hard to eliminate anything that harmed honest personal confession. His leadership was to confess his own sins rather than demanding confession of me. How different this is in so many Christian homes. As parents or churches humbly understand that no one is without sin, without error, without imperfection, they awaken truth and dependency on God for doing the work of transformation.
“If we say we have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar, and His word is not in us.”
– 1 John 1:6-10