Summary: A message dealing with the issue of hypocrisy.
Snapchat. I don’t know much about Snapchat except what I read about it on the web. I don’t have it on my phone because, frankly, I don’t see the need for an app on my phone that supposedly lets me take a photo or video, send it to someone, and as soon as it’s been viewed, is automatically deleted. I just don’t need that app.
Snapchat is a video messaging app created by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown, when they were students at Stanford University. With the app, users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. These sent photos and videos are called "Snaps". Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps (the range is from 1 to 10 seconds), after which Snapchat claims they will be deleted from the company's servers. According to Snapchat, in May 2014 the app's users were sending 700 million photos and videos per day.
So, here’s the concept: Take a picture or video of anything you want, and within ten seconds of viewing it, it’s gone forever. It’s guilt free photography, which plays well in our guilt-free culture. Of the 700 million “snaps” sent every day, many of them are compromising, embarrassing, or explicit in nature. The only problem is what’s gone in the digital world is not really gone. Both Elle magazine and ABC News had a story in May of 2014 that reported that the app still has the data to all of the images you swore would never see the light of day again. According to the forensic researcher who discovered this little nugget of information, he also discovered that, with the right software, a savvy hacker could gain access to photos, contacts, and other cellular data, as well. What we think we can hide isn’t really hidden at all. Just ask Hilary Clinton about deleted emails, and Prince Henry and Congressman Anthony Weiner about “deleted” photos. What a way to be connected, right?
We’ve wanted this message series to be about discipleship. We can’t be disciples unless we’re connected, but we’re not always connected to the correct things, or in the correct ways. Jesus pulled his disciples aside to give them some advice on discipleship. As the crowds were literally crushing each other, he pulled his disciples aside and warned them, “Don’t be like the Pharisees. They’re hypocrites.” We hear that word and immediately our minds imagine that being called a hypocrite is the worst thing anyone can be called. It wasn’t quite that bad a word in the first century. What is hypocrisy? Hypocrisy at its simplest is wearing a mask. This word originated out of the Greek theater. The actors in Greek theater wore masks to depict the different characters they took on. They would speak in hypocrisis, where they pretended to be someone else. The Pharisees, Jesus was saying, have on masks. They are pretending to be something they are not. They’re play-acting.
When Jesus calls his disciples aside, he’s just left a blistering encounter with the Pharisees and lawyers where He blasted the theology of creating and placing an unbearable legalistic system on people, then not doing any of it themselves. But the Pharisees were the power brokers. They were the ones everybody paid attention to, including these Jewish disciples of his. These disciples had been taught to look up to the Pharisees. After all, they were the ones who held all the cards, and if you wanted to get ahead you needed to heed what they said. Jesus is saying, “They might appear to be righteous on the outside but you don’t realize that everything they do or say will be revealed. All the "masks" will come off.”
Jesus compares their hypocrisy to yeast. When Jesus says hypocrisy is like yeast, he simply means a little bit of hypocrisy goes a long way. Yeast is a very positive thing in baking. Its influence changes the dough for the better, and it doesn’t take much. Jesus is talking about influence, and he warns his disciples to beware of the influence of the Pharisees—they’re influence is hypocritical…it’s a negative influence. It’s a warning for the disciples witness to be positive. Jesus has just compared the Pharisees to unmarked tombs. It was his way of saying their influence leads to death, so let your influence give life.
What were some of the things the Pharisees did that Jesus was referencing:
• They majored on the minors
• They sought fame and public applause
• They were more of a hindrance to people finding God than a help
• They placed unrealistic demands on people
Jesus was saying to his disciples, “Don’t just play the part. Live the part.” It was a call to live a life of authenticity. It was a call to live a life of transparency. His warning was to live with authenticity and transparency because the lives of those disciples (and every subsequent disciple) will ultimately give testimony to the Kingdom of God. Unfortunately, the warning Jesus gave his first disciples was not necessarily heeded by subsequent ones, including us. One of the great charges against the church and against Christians is, “They’re all a bunch of hypocrites.”