Saturday, June 25, 2005

Hypocrites

My first post here would be about hypocrites. Just now, I went to friendster and visited a friend's profile. He put there he hates to meet hypocrites. I presume he is also referring to Christians in general, besides others. So I decided to write this post.
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Okay, let's be frank. What do you think about Christianity? I suppose many people would think that the teachings from the bible, which is God's Words, are very good and perfect. It seems almost impossible to be done by human beings. Pre-believers will expect Christians to follow closely to the teachings of Jesus. They will look with disdain on Christians who do not live what they say they believe. And they might call, deep down, Christians to be hypocrites because to them Christians have the practice of claiming to have higher standards or beliefs than is the case. But we must, first of all, understand that we are all humans who are sinners and fall short of God’s glory because of imputed and inherited sin that may cause personal sin. That is why those pre-believers couldn’t accept the teachings from the bible because they realize it is simply too difficult to practice all of them and to practice them is to lose their “freedom”. To put it simply, they realize the teachings from the bible are against their human nature. To practice doing them makes then feel unnatural and this makes them feel guilty (so am I). [Aren’t human nature sins that are imputed and inherited?] Some people may find it easy to do it while some people find it hard. What are the reasons? We will find out later. If we don’t learn to practice them now, when will we have the chances to learn them? These are what I told myself whenever I feel unnatural and reluctant to practice them, and I still feel unnatural very often. I have come across those really good Christians who really live their life as if Christ has lived in them. I really admire their lifestyle and wish to be like them but I know it is hard.
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The bible tells us:
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Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. (Romans 5:12-13)
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This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:22-24)
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So we know no one is righteous. Then I begin to think: if pre-believers agree that there is no perfect man in this world, then why they shun Christianity? My guesses would be that maybe the Christians they come across are not so warmth and friendly as they should be. So they presume they don’t behave as what the Christian faith teaches. To love is the greatest commandment in Christianity but it is the hardest to learn and show it, especially the kind of unconditional love to anyone. That is why we have a life time to learn it. A pastor from TTC confessed during one of his sermon in TA that loving people is really hard. But for the sake of Christian witness, we should try our best to show the agape kind of love to the world.
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Therefore I feel those pre-believers are drawn towards people from other faith (or organized groups), or even New Age group and some free thinkers because they can see and feel the warmth in them. It is a pity that these people are not Christians; otherwise they would demonstrate the kind of Christian love / agape to the world.
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Actually, born-again Christians should live their life in a Christ-like way because Christians are supposed to be "the salt of the earth" and "the light of the earth".
The bible tells us that:
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No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (1 John 3:6)
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He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:8-10)
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No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:12)
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Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)
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If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (1 John 3:17-20)
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This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. (1 John 3:11)
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Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:8-10)
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And with authority, Jesus tells us:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.(John 13:34-35)
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But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:35-36)
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'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40)
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The bible tells us that God hate hypocrites:
I do not sit with deceitful men, nor do I consort with hypocrites; (Psalm 26:4)
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Moreover, Jesus told us not to be like hypocrites and show us what hypocrites are like:
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"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
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"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
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"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:1-8)
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"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:16-18)
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If you live long enough or maybe open your eyes and ears hard enough, you may realize that you hardly heard or seen Christians or the Church performing charity acts before man. Mostly, you only heard or seen people who are engrossed with worldly affairs proudly declared they have done this and so on. To some others, doing "charity acts" or "good deeds" may be a "routine" to them so that they may be accepted by society. I think all these are just "acts of show" for people to see if we separate the issue of who can benefit from it? So now you know why you don't often see what you want to see in Christianity? Think about it: If they are faced with trials and tribulations in life, do you think those people will still be as kind and friendly? I would more confidently say that a person who is truely transformed by God's love and has a personal relationship with God, could still be as kind and friendly as they were because they have overcome the world and live a victorious life.
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Thus, I believe what pre-believers want is to see and feel and “touch” the kind of warmth they want. They want to see kindness, charity and the like as a proof of what their belief can be based on. Yes, all these qualities are to be in Christian’s life and by faith, these good works will be shown, instead of showing it just for the world and society to see. Moreover, God makes everybody unique. God weights our heart, not by the things we do. (Proverbs 21:2) When we do all these good things, we are glorifying God who is in heaven and not ourselves.
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In conclusion, I feel that people recognize there is a rebellious nature in each one of us. They know that by nature they have an evil-doing nature and a good-doing nature; they are struggling to come to terms with these two natures everyday. Sometimes they let the evil-doing nature takes over their life because it makes them feel good--the flesh feels good. But then since they have a good-doing nature in them, they may feel guilty. As for some of them, I feel, they realise that because of their rebellious nature which makes them feel good, they simply ignore the good-doing nature because of what they think of restraining their "freedom". They think only hypocrites will observe the good-doing nature while at the same time being confronted by the evil-doing nature everyday. How ridiculous! Is that how God made man in the beginning?
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If we are truly born of God (or born of water and the Spirit), we can overcome the evil-nature in us, for we all come into this world physically alive but spiritually dead. I believe that the struggle between the good and evil nature in everyday life is like those cartoons whereby an angel and a devil are fighting over to perform good or evil things, within the inner someone . The bible tells us that a "restainer", the one who now holds back the secret power of lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 2:7) will be removed in the last days. The “restainer” here is the Holy Spirit who is sent into the world to indwell individual members of the church and to help pre-believers see God, repent and turn to God by leading them to Christ. Christians help to scatter God’s seeds or the good seeds and the Holy Spirit will water them. All these happen in the unseen world.
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Thus, maybe those pre-believers ought to understand what the meaning of the word "Hypocrite" is! (Although there will, I believe, always be such people existing everywhere, not only in churches. Hmm... Am I? I think I better reflect on God’s words daily so that I may not be like hypocrite one day. Hmm..but the point is am I one now? Hmm… You judge lo. =) )
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[A really long post. Don’t know if you all know what I’m talking about.]
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PS Actually there are a lot of verses to show, but it would be pointless to put all down. Read the bible yourself and find out yourself lo.

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1 comment:

Ty said...

Good post...It is always a challenge for the church to show Christ to the world, unfortunately of recent times we have become known for more of what we are against than what we are for...hence the hypocrite tag (and some very nasty scandals tossed in on top like croutons to the bad P.R. salad).
So what should the church do? Simple back to basics of discipling individuals like we are called to do in Matthew, live out your life and calling, and by doing that others will see the light and the world will change for the better and so will Christ's image in the world (as we have badly tarnished it).
Shalom;
Br. Ty