Summary: Series on three destructive and unfortunate events that occur in church: Pt I - Hypocrisy.
The Unfortunate Things Christians Do. (Things that drive away church growth.)
“The sermon you are about to hear is extremely unpleasant. In this story, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning, and very few happy things in the middle. This is because not very many happy things happen in the lives of the three characters you’re about to meet.
Harry, the oldest of three is a Hypocrite. He likes to pretend he’s someone holier than who he really is. Priscilla is the middle-aged character. She used to live a spirit filled life, but now she’s afraid to do much of anything. Sunny, the youngest, she likes to bite things… We call her the back-biter.
No one knows the precise reason their church doesn’t grow… It just doesn’t. And just like that, the children of God become orphans, fending for themselves in a dark and treacherous world.”
(You could have someone (even the pastor) dress up like count Olaf. Play the role…)
Today’s sermon is entitled, “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” It’s about the unfortunate things Christians do. (Movie Disclaimer) I know that preaching a sermon around the theme of a movie can be controversial, but if the theme interests someone who might not otherwise hear God’s word, then it’s reached a better end then it was purposed for.
In every church there are characters, and wherever there are characters, we know there are character flaws. Now, I know this doesn’t apply to our church, because we’re perfect… I’m talking about all the other churches out there… Anyhow, there are some character flaws in specific, which tear apart the very fibers that hold a church together: the things that cause a church to grow and be healthy.
These characteristics are the things people do that destroy other people’s faith: things that drive people away from the church where God can be experienced in a life-changing way: a series of unfortunate events that occur in congregations around the world: the unfortunate things Christians do. Today and in the weeks to come, I’m going to focus on three of the most unfortunate events occurring in church today.
And the first of these unfortunate events is HYPOCRISY. Illustration: The dead lizard in my office… Jesus said to the spiritual leaders of His time, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” Matt 23:27-28
Jesus had a problem with hypocrites in His day and He has a problem with them today. Hypocrites have been around forever, and to some degree everyone’s a hypocrite at some time or another…
Unfortunately, hypocrisy is one of the most damaging events occurring in churches today.
A businessman was returning home from a business trip. The plane pulled in, the passengers were dismissed and his wife met him at the gate. They made their way to the baggage claim area when an extremely attractive stewardess walked by. Suddenly, the husband came to life. Beaming, he said to the stewardess, "I hope we can fly together again, Miss Jones." She grinned at him and walked away.
Just then, his wife asked, "How did you know the name of that stewardess?" Husband plays it off, “Well, her name was posted up front in the plane, right under the names of the pilot and co-pilot.” You know what the wife said? "Oh really? How nice of you to notice… Tell me, what were the names of the pilot and the co-pilot?" BUSTED! The man’s hypocrisy was uncovered. His true motives were revealed.
Jesus was fed up with hypocrisy in His day, because the Pharisees and Sadducees appeared righteous outwardly and inwardly their motives were evil. They did more to drive people away from God than lead them to Him.
They were experts at appearing good from the outside, when they were actually unfaithful on the inside. When they fasted, they would pretend to act like they didn’t want anyone to know, but they would disfigure their face or find some round about way for others to find out so they could be praised for their great spirituality. That’s hypocrisy.
In Matt 6:16-18, it seems so many people were keeping up apropos that Jesus had to confront the issue publicly. He said for instance, "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.”