From time to time, a rant long or short, concerning church people and religion appear on news or social media. There is some truth buried there along with curious dregs. A reading of Matthew, chapter 23, reminds of the woes that are associated with misplaced religiosity and hypocrisy. “Woe to you Scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites.” Give the scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites, a sarcastic ‘gracias’ for making ‘religion’ such an offense to so many. But no worries, believing Christianity a religion is no hurt and it is named as such in dictionaries, casual conversation, and the Bible. And okay, censures are certainly applicable to many churchifieds and woe, hypocrite for expending effort to win compatriots and turn them into bench copies of one- self.
Hypocrite, the word (he who wears a mask) comes from long ago days when stage actors in character, wore masks or sometimes just held up a face on a stick. It might surprise ranters and disdainers how closely they themselves fit the woeful mold. Woe, hypocrite, to your self-aggrandizement. It is your enemy and will eventually lay you low. Woe, hypocrite, you shut the door of the kingdom of heaven with criticism and gossip, not allowing others or even yourself inside. “But I am not professing to believe anything or be particularly righteous toward God, so hypocrisy doesn’t apply and…” Woe, hypocrite, beautiful people, unclean, and unconcerned, who eat from china the spoilage of narcissism and fly your flag anywhere but sanctuary. “My God, man! I say again, I do not mix with holy rollers and am thus freed of hypocrisy. Get it?” Your God? You hide it well. Is that how you are able to judge justice, select mercy, and define undefinable faith (too embarrassing to share and not colorful enough to wear on a sleeve) as you call forth good (but not religion of course)? Maybe you have acquainted yourself in late Saturday and early Sunday travels with like-minded intelligentsia who suffer their brand of offense of religion through quaint vulgarisms of the church; salvation through the blood of Jesus, washing away sins, the throne of God, streets of gold, and such like. These bright ones cringe at such fairy tales while reaching out to spirits and starry influences and rivers in Elysian Fields. How bright it is to believe that mind at winter’s end enters the cold All, or maybe the black Nothing? Meditative fancies can be quite the scare. But believers (no stage actors) are truth comfortable with their enunciations, as are in reality, honest unbelievers who hear the calling voice but suffer the void. Believers (no mask wearers) voice expressions of the inexpressible and understand that sins are not left lying around in baptismal pools and the blood of Jesus cannot be strained from the sands of Golgotha. However, that keeps them not at all from being redeemed with it. “O souls so far astray, come and plunge today; in the blood that stained the old rugged cross.” (Albert E. Brumley). All need not be understood in order to be true; nor is long settled, historical orthodoxy a conspiracy; nor is it stupidity. I.Q. may feed a needy ego and even hold forth a degree of affection toward fellows. But foolishness is less evident when holding one’s water, instead of challenging the Rock that is Christ. The Lord’s transforming glory is beheld unmasked, with an open face, and hypocrites of any stripe have difficulty with such a visual.