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Summary: Church is a place where we may be imperfect but where we arre also in the process of becoming better.

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Title: Why Go to Church: Real People! (The People Are Real!)

Text: John 3:1-3

Thesis: Church is a place where we may be imperfect but where we are also in the process of becoming better.

Introduction

The word “hypocrisy” comes from the Greek word “hypokrisis” which means “play-acting.” Our word “hypocrite” (Greek word “hypokrites) may be understood as someone who is an actor or one who is putting on a performance. Along the way I believe I have heard being a hypocrite likened to wearing a mask so as to portray a false identity.

My favorite British sitcom is Keeping Up Appearances and stars the well-known British actress Patricia Routledge. Routledge plays the part of Hyacinth “Bucket” but in that “Bucket” is entirely too common, she prefers the pronunciation “Bouquet.”

She was born into a working-class family but managed to marry Richard Bucket, who may barely be considered upper-middle-class. He is a low level civil servant. Hyacinth is the epitome of a snob who is perpetually trying to climb the social ladder and doing her best to impress her neighbors and friends of her high social standing. She looks down on others and is embarrassed by her sisters, Daisy and Rose and particularly with her brother-in-law, Onslow. Onslow and Daisy live in tenement housing in a depressed part of town and have an old junker car sitting on blocks in the front yard.

All of the episodes are highly entertaining as viewers can easily see that her obsession with appearing socially advantaged is intended to compensate for her own insecurities and the fact that she comes from a family she considers common.

Unfortunately hypocrisy is not always so innocently and amusingly portrayed. Hypocrisy becomes most heinous when we discover a well-known televangelist who rails against pornography and prostitution and homosexuality is found to be a user of pornography, a frequenter of prostitutes or is engaged in homosexual activity. It is most heinous when a politician who claims to be a Christian and who espouses family values is caught in an illicit affair. It is most heinous when a person wearing a mask of business savvy and integrity bilks people out of their savings and squanders their money living in luxury even as the ponzi scheme comes crumbling down.

Some time ago the camera was on a well-known and admired politician who was attending a state funeral… he and another pol were walking together and appeared to be chatting and joking as they walked. Then when he saw that he was on camera, he immediately began to appear to be wiping tears from his eyes. Putting on a show of sadness so as to be socially correct is hypocrisy.

I am not foolish enough to make this a blanket statement because I would be wrong to say it is always the case. But my observation is this, whenever someone gets all condemnatory and judgmental about an issue, that person is likely fighting with his or her own demons. They, like Hyacinth, do not like to think of themselves as common.

We’ve all seen hypocrisy and perhaps even behaved hypocritically.

Jesus openly condemned hypocrisy.

I. Jesus condemned hypocrisy and hypocrites.

Seven times Jesus said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!” (23:13,15,16,23,25,27, and 29)

The only times Jesus ever really nailed someone was when they were behaving hypocritically. And it seems his charges of hypocrisy were leveled at religious leaders. Reference Matthew 23:13-19.

When Jesus nailed someone for hypocrisy it was always in conjunction with a person putting on appearances. He compared them to the outside of a cup and dish that they were careful to wash on the outside but inside the cup and dish were still filthy dirty…

I often have breakfast at George’s Café during the week but I usually eat somewhere else on Saturday because of the heavy patronage there on Saturday and they only run their specials during the week so… I was eating at another breakfast spot.

I placed my order for a big glass of water and a cup of coffee, an omelet and fruit – no taters, no toast. The server brought my water and coffee, I lifted the cup and immediately knew something was wrong when it touched my lips. There was a huge lipstick imprint on the side of the cup. He apologized explaining that whatever waxy stuff is in lipstick does not come off in the dishwasher and they have to catch them and clean them before putting them through the washer. He brought me a second cup which I noted was clean on the outside. But when I got to the bottom of the cup there was some kind of brown crude stuck to the bottom of inside of the cup.

I didn’t die and I know the cup had been put through a dishwasher that surely soaped and scalded to death any living thing that might have been lurking in my cup… but just because something looks clean on the outside does not mean it is clean on the inside. That was the charge Jesus was laying on the pretentious religious leaders.

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