Hypocritical Christian Part 1
At the Jesus in the City parade I decided to take a shortcut: instead of going with the parade around the many downtown city blocks, I decided to take a shortcut and meet the floats on the way back. As I walked through the shortcut I got a bit tired and thirsty so I bought a cool drink. It was a sunny and hot afternoon so soon I was thirsty again and the sweat on my forehead started to bother me. As I reached the end of this shortcut street and met up with the floats of the parade I saw this man who was playing the role of our Lord, Jesus Christ: he was barefoot and wearing minimum clothes under the hot sun. Being tired and annoyed by the heat I immediately thought, “Is he crazy? I would never do that!” Then almost immediately I thought, “Thank God Jesus Christ died for me so I don’t have to do it!”
Such raw human thoughts caught me by surprise because for years I have been expressing my commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ (through prayers and Christian songs) telling Him that I love Him, and that I am willing to do anything for Him—even if it means persecution and death! Yet, here I was thankful that my Lord—whom I claim to love and willing to die for Him–died in my place because I was bothered with sweat! As I started to think about my hypocrite heart (I say “hypocrite heart” and not “hypocrite mind” because my mind knows what it wants to do, but it is my heart that makes claims and commitments it is unwilling to keep) I remembered how a while back I had a foot infection, and so I went to the doctor and after the treatment I asked him, “Doctor, will this leave a scar?” I was concerned if a scar—no bigger than a quarter inch in diameter–will be “visible” on the bottom of my foot (how often do people see the bottom of our feet anyway?!), and I claimed that I was willing to take the pain and the scars of the scourging Roman wimps on my back for the sake of Christ! Then I remembered how I spent thousands of dollars and years of my times on my braces—as if I am not going to die and rot, as if my teeth are eternal!
There is a 10 minutes walk from the bus stop to my evening job and I enjoy that walk so much because the area is so quiet and peaceful that I always walk the distance rather than take the shuttle van. And I try to walk slowly to extend this 10 minutes walk to over 15 minutes. In those 15-20 minutes I pray my most sincere prayers and often times those prayers are audible if you are close to me. Last week as I was walking and praying I decided to think more about my hypocritical life, and soon I found myself telling God the truth about me. The truth is that for the last 12 years of my “Christian” life I was never a true worshipper of the Lord:
For the first 4 years I did not know much about Christianity and my life was characterized by lust. At the same time I had a crush on a lady who was my idol. Then God freed me from lust just like that, overnight, and few months later He freed me from my obsessive crush on that lady and soon after that I started taking the Christian life seriously because I was afraid I would fall back into the slavery of lust (not because I loved Him but because I loved myself and loved the new freedom from sin I had). And so soon I became a “Christian” legalist full of bitterness, and lacked joy and peace. I knew what it meant to be saved by grace, but I had no idea what it meant to live by grace. In those years, as I worked in a warehouse, I wanted to please God more than anything and yearned to know His will and obey Him. I cared about His blessings more than I cared about loving Him for who He is. In those four years I fell in love with a close friend and soon she became an idol too—along with the dream of being happily married to her. So in those four years I had more than one idol that kept my soul “fresh” and energized: I had my self-righteousness, I had my false humility (which was more of a low self-esteem), I had the love of a woman who I was fascinated with. This went on for about 4 years.
Then within few months I got accepted into university, I lost the woman I loved, God freed me from my legalism, and I bought a camera! So for the next four years I had higher education as my idol (it so much replaced my low self-esteem as an idol), and rejection and pain occupied my mind more than everything else combined. Soon I started attending the university gym and physical health and appearance became another idol. And photography became kind of an idol too! This was the spiritual story of my life for the next four years.
Now that I graduated and working two jobs: I have idols in the form of worries about making and saving money, buying a car and getting my own place, getting married, etc.
Then if my life story goes like most people in North America: in few years I will have the worries of a wedding, being “happily” married, having “healthy” children. Then I will worry about their upbringing and then I will worry about the friends they hang out with, and their education. Then I will worry about them getting married, and then I will have my grandchildren as my idols. Then I will look forward to retirement and just relaxing—and that would be my idol–and few years later I will die. I will have just another grave and another tombstone, and I will be just another rotten corpse.
My life is truly characterised by worshipping idols, and hypocrisy is the best cover up for it. I do not remember a week where I worshipped the Lord only–He always had competitions. Actually, He was competing with my idols. I never for a whole day loved Him for He is, that is: to love Him because He is worthy of my love. And most of those idols in my life are not extraordinary things that forced themselves on me, no, it is just that my human heart has this endless capacity to make an idol of anything—to idolize and attach itself to anything and anyone except the One who deserves my worship and intimacy. That is what made Job so extraordinary because when all important things to him (his family, his wealth, his health, his fame and power, the respect of his wife and friends, God’s blessings, and his reputation as being righteous), things that could have been idols to him, were taken away from him, he said:
“ Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.” (Job 1:21)
Job was not a man who only trusted and feared the Lord, oh no: Job loved the Lord!
The popular 21 century American preacher A. W. Tozar said, “Christians don’t tell lies – they just go to church and sing them.” Well, I do not tell lies—I just live them. No one described me better than the Lord Jesus Christ when He said in Matthew 23:3, “So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” The perfect inscription on my tombstone should read: A true idolater. A hypocritical Christian.