Summary: A sermon about learning to be authentic Chrisitians.
Matthew 23:1-6, 13-15, 23-28, 33
“Could I Be A Pharisee?”
by: Rev. Ken Sauer, pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, Soddy Daisy, TN www.graceumcsd.org
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Rome: “You yourselves are our letter…known and read by everybody.”
Today he might drop the reference to “letter” and insert email or text message in its place.
In any event, when a person “reads” your life, what does it say?
In our Gospel Lesson for this morning, Jesus tells the crowds and His disciples about the religious leaders of His day: “Do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”
Jesus calls the Pharisees: “hypocrites.”
The word hypocrite is taken from and old Greek word that refers to wearing a mask.
Hypocrites, then, are mask-wearers.
They appear to be one thing, but it’s all a front—behind the mask they are something else.
We all wear masks of some sort do we not?
We are all hypocrites at some level.
None of us have it “all together.”
And one thing, as Christians, we must come to recognize is that “It’s okay not to be okay!”
Jesus didn’t save us because we were perfect, He saved us because we were sinners.
And Christianity is not a destination, it is a journey…
…it is a journey which takes a lifetime.
But so often, we Christians think we have to have it all together…
…so many of us wear masks.
I think it’s time for us all to take off the masks, acknowledge our imperfections, and stop giving the world the false impression that we carry around an air of moral superiority.
We all have “messy lives”…
…We are persons with “messy lives joining hands to follow Jesus!!!”
This is the message that we need to hear.
This is the message that the world needs to see and hear as well.
I don’t see in Jesus’ teachings a call to fake moral superiority.
I’m a sinner following Jesus, how about you?
I don’t have it all together, and this admission is precisely what we need in order to tweak the perception of hypocrisy.
People inside and outside the church need to know that it’s “okay not to be okay.”
We all share the human condition with all its brokenness.
And we have the hope that Jesus can really transform lives and redeem the future.
The world often perceives Christians in just the same way Jesus saw through the Pharisees of His day.
This perception of hypocrisy often emerges when we start fighting the “culture war”—meaning that we attack people’s behavior patterns rather than love them as people.
Or we lobby to legislate morality.
In this post-Christian, post-Modern society the culture war is OVER, and WE LOST!
Now our calling is to love and accept people one-on-one, caring for them where they are…
…which was always the calling of Christians.
Our role is to be subversive as we carry the light and love of Jesus into the bars, clubs, skate parks, and streets of our community!
We flip the perception of hypocrisy by being honest and straightforward about our faults and our hope for transformation in Jesus!
And in doing this, we are joining our community in a different kind of culture war…
…the kind of culture war Jesus was involved in…
…one that attacks poerty, crime, addiction, and pain.
When we’re active in helping the homeless in Soddy Daisy and Chattanooga, we’ve declared war on child hunger in the valley of the mountains that surround us, and we are showing our faith by our actions, even if imperfectly!
Now, that’s something I can get excited about, how about you?
We need to get a grip on what it means to follow Jesus Christ, and then convey that authentically to the world.
As most of you know, I have taken up skateboarding.
It has become my favorite thing to do.
I run down to that skate park downtown every chance I get.
And when I become engaged in conversation with other folks at the park, one thing I often hear is: “You are a pastor?
What are you doing here?
I didn’t think pastors skateboarded.”
Well, why not?
Being a Christian does not mean being boring or stuffy!
It’s too bad we have gotten that reputation.
As some of you know…simply because you are going with her…
…my wife is taking her choir to Austria in December.
I was having Wednesday night dinner at Hixson United Methodist Church this past week, and some of us were joking around when I said, “My wife is going out of town in December—Keg Party at my house!!!”
The other people at the table thought the idea of a pastor having a keg party absolutely hysterical.
One person blurted out: “You would have the most popular church in town.”