Jesus sometimes used the term “hypocrite“, but most often in regard to the self-righteous. What did he mean by that and how does that apply to us?
When I first started going to church, before my point of conversion, being one of those hypocrites was the last thing I wanted to be. I didn’t want to be one of “them.” I didn’t want to be brainwashed, nor chuck my brain at the door. Yet, the funny thing is that is probably the biggest part of my testimony. A “brainwashing” is probably what I needed the most!
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins”
In Matthew 1:21, we’re taught the meaning of the word Jesus. It means God saves (not me). That’s the whole point of the term “repent” in the gospels. It is not to turn away from something, but to turn towards someone, but that’s a topic for another post.
For a number of years, I have wrestled with what my testimony is. Did I become a “good” person? Not really. Is it because my behavior is so much better? Not really. Is it because of a personal healing or personal encounter I’ve had with His love? Not especially, though I have had glimpses along my journey. What’s ironic is probably more than anything else, God has changed the way I think. That’s the meaning of the word ‘repent’, i.e. to change one’s mind – metanoeo in the Greek. God has changed the way I think about many things, the environment, children, sexuality, marriage, and even birth control. Some of my ways of thinking were deeply entrenched, and it is something of a miracle that I could even begin to think about things differently. My ways of thinking were not something I could change on my own and in many cases weren’t even looking to change. Yet, God.
If we look carefully at the scriptures, we will see two expressions used as opposites.
Hypocrite versus Eternal Life
Hypocrite: a person who pretends to have virtues, beliefs, morals, or principles whose actions don’t match what they say. In other words, a pretender.
Jesus defines the term as well. Mark 7:6 – “these people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”
I have come to realize that I have become a card-carrying member of the “Hypocrites-R-US club.” Sad but true. The words in scripture tend to make hypocrites of us all. I think that is the point. In the Mark 7:6 text, we find both the problem and the antidote. The answer can only be found through a personal relationship with the one who is able to save our souls.
Eternal Life: an intimate knowing of God the Father and the Son whom He sent (I would encourage you to pursue a a concordance study on “eternal life,” especially through the book of John).
John 17:3 (HCSB)
“This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent — Jesus Christ.”
Eternal life comes through relational knowledge of both God as Father (Abba meaning daddy), and Jesus through the means of the Holy Sprit. I believe that this intimate relational knowing of God will continue, beyond our earthly dimension, to that of heaven.
One of the questions I have been seeking is what that knowledge looks like. The answer that I have received so far is that it should look like love because God is love. In 1 John, we learn that the one who says he loves God but does not love his brother is a liar (1 John 4:20). In other words, our inability to love others takes us back to being a hypocrite and needing a savior to save us from our selves.
The late prophet Bob Jones who “coincidentally” died on February 14th of this year, had visions of heaven. He said for those of us who have accepted the gift of Jesus’ life, Jesus is only going to ask us one thing, determining our reward. “Did you learn to love?”
That is the path to eternal life. The one who knows God, is intimately familiar with how to love, because God is love. The rest of us are probably hypocrites in need of a savior.
In a scene from the movie “Ragamuffin,” Brennan Manning presents the idea that Jesus will ask us one question, “Did you believe in my love for you?” That is the question we all must wrestle with.
We are able to love because God first loved us. That’s where it all begins and originates from. It’s there that we find grace to take us from being hypocrites to a life lived out of love, and find confidence in a life that is eternal.