Everybody hates liars. I have been spending a lot of time considering this point. What brought this idea to the forefront of my mind was a conversation I had recently. I mentioned to one of my non-christian friends some of the inconsistent action of my some of my Christian–specifically some of my friends in postions of leadership in the church. I had made my comment kind of off-hand and would not have thought much of it except the person I made the comment to became a bit exasperated and told me ”people like that were the reason she did not like church”. I realized at that point that I had made the comment to the wrong person, and should have been more careful with my words. It was this interaction that has had me thinking about the idea of hypocrisy for the last couple of weeks.
This is the conclusion I have come to. The problem with hypocrisy is not inconsistency. The problem with hypocrisy if the lie. You know the lie I’m referring to. Its the lie we all tell. It usually goes something like this “If they knew the real me, if they knew about my inconsistencies they wouldn’t ________ me”. You can fill in the blank with your own adjective: like, respect, admire, trust, etc… Perhaps what you tell yourself is you don’t want to let people know the truth about the inconsistencies of your life because they would think you a hypocrite. Yet I would submit that it is not the inconsistency that makes us a hypocrite its the lie. Somehow though I still convice myself that the best thing for everyone is the lie, the cover-up, the little thing that I do or say to make everyone believe I am as good as they think I am or better.
The reality is the lie is what ends up holding us back. We think the lie is the thing that will make sure we still look good but the lie is the thing that drives a wedge between me and you. It becomes an invisible barrier that never allows me to know you or you to know me and when that barrier falls–which it will–the wedge becomes an ocean too far to cross. Why? Because we all hate liars. The lie means you didn’t trust me and I can’t trust you. It makes true relationship impossible, and yet most of us do it.
The greatest thing about our faith is the one thing most of seem unable to accept. We no longer have to tell the lie–in fact telling the lie is not only a hinderance to our relationships with others it is also a hinderance to our faith. What we forget is the great heros of our faith are murderers ( Paul, David, Moses ), cheats ( Zaccheus, Issac, Matthew ), prostitutes ( Rahab, Mary), homeless (Jesus), prisoners (Paul), and all kinds of other social and religious outcasts. I think this is one of the great points ofthe Bible we often miss. God loves the underdog, He loves the outcast, but mostly he loves the honest–and here is the reality most people I have met are the same. We all love an underdog. We all appreciate an honest person. We find safety in honesty–who doesn’t want to feel safe?
Most of us do not mind that the people we know cannot live up to thier own high ideals. That is the reality of the human condition. I believe most of us believe the world and ourselves should be something that we are not. We believe in, or at least hope for something greater. Because without hope what is life? However, I know I fall short and you probably know you fall short. Until we drop the pretense and forget the lie we are stuck, we are hypocrites, lost, alone, far from faith and far from others. The challenge is to become honest. Become honest with ourselves, become honest with God, and become honest with others. Let the world know that we are fallen, broken, and inconsistent–even at the deepest levels. Most people will respect that, and we serve a God who has proven over and over again that he rewards that kind of honest–even in the face of the most heinous of sins. We serve a God that before he transforms the most henious of sinners forgives the most heinous of sinners. That plain and simple is the Gospel. Living honestly–not flawlessly–before God and man.