The Mask

Hypocrisy is saying we believe something, then living as if we didn’t.  Hypocrisy is preaching and not practicing.  It says do as I say not as I do.  It’s insincerity wearing a mask of sincerity.

Sincere Christians sin.  But it’s one thing to earnestly though imperfectly pursue holiness and yet another to say we love God and willfully practice sin.

Many view Christians as hypocrites.  Some have concluded this when Christian leaders have fallen. But many have formed this opinion from personal experience with “pious” neighbors, classmates, co-workers or parents who claim to follow Jesus yet fail to back it up with their lives.

The book unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity…And Why It Matters, by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons records the findings of extensive research conducted over 3 years to try to discover how the younger generation of unbelievers views Christians. Here’s one of their discoveries:

“In virtually every study we conduct, representing thousands of interviews every year, born-again Christians fail to display much attitudinal or behavioral evidence of transformed lives. For instance, based on a study released in 2007, we found that most of the lifestyle activities of born-again Christians were statistically equivalent to those of non-born-agains. When asked to identify their activities over the last 30 days, born-again believers were just as likely to bet or gamble, to visit a pornographic website, to take something that did not belong to them, to consult a medium or psychic, to physically fight or abuse someone, to have consumed enough alcohol to be considered legally drunk, to have used an illegal, nonprescription drug, to have said something to someone that was not true, to have gotten back at someone for something he or she did, and to have said mean things behind another person’s back.”

In other words, many Christians are no different than non-Christians in their lifestyles.

And here’s what Kinnaman and Lyons consider “one of the most important findings” of their research:

“Among young [non-Christians], 84 percent say they personally know at least one committed Christian.  Yet just 15 percent thought the lifestyles of those Christ followers were significantly different from the norm.”

It’s sad when people can’t see any difference between the lives of Christians and unbelievers.

Hypocrisy dishonors Christ. It says Jesus is powerless to make a difference in our lives.  It says his death and resurrection don’t change anyone.  Holiness means nothing.  It’s a mask, but underneath we’re just like everybody else.

Hypocrisy undermines our witness.  It says our faith is a bunch of beliefs and practices that don’t affect our day to day lives.

Would our kids say though we are imperfect, we really do try to practice what we preach?  Or would they say we put on smiling masks of loving, patient parents in church, then take them off when we get home?

Would our non-Christian co-workers say we wear a mask of loyalty and diligence when the boss is around, but take it off to reveal slothfulness and grumbling when he leaves?  Would they say we’re truly joyful?  Would they say we’re encouragers?  Would they see any difference between us and themselves?

How we need God’s grace!  May we live sincere lives with nothing to hide.  No masks.

Free Scripture Song 1 John 1.7

Here’s another FREE Scripture Song to help you memorize the Word.  I love this Scripture:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1.7

You can listen to and download this free Scripture song here.  If you’d like more free Scripture songs, scroll down the page to the section on the right that says “Free Resources” and click on “Free Scripture Memory Songs.”

This song comes from Hide the Word 9, “Walk Humbly,” which is part of my series of 9 Hide the Word albums, which have been designed to help people memorize Scripture.  If you would like to hear other Hide the Word songs, please visit my website, Forever Grateful Music.

photo by Wonderlane

Praying In Faith For Older Unbelieving Children

I’ve been reading Come Back, Barbara by C. John Miller and Barbara Miller Juliani, about a family’s struggle to love and believe for the salvation of their daughter who rejected Christ.

Mr. Miller has a great insight into the challenge to pray in faith for those children who have rejected and sinned against their parents repeatedly:

“What goes on in the minds of battered [not literally, but by their children’s sin] parents when it comes time to pray? Often a sense of defeat takes over the spirit, a cloud that can descend even when the parents have forgiven the young person and have real love in their hearts. The problem is that parents often have a fixed negative image of the child. He or she is seen as unchangeable, an image that may be powerfully reinforced by the recollection of the adolescents many failings: repeated acts of rebellion, words of rebellion, and looks of rebellion.

The devil knows how to use this image to undermine effective prayer. He suggests to the unsuspecting parent that this image of cold resistance is the final vision of the child. “This thankless child cannot be changed,” says the Master of Darkness. Listening uncritically to this voice, the praying father or mother then naturally lets the mind become fixed on the child’s stubbornness. Who can pray effectively when the mind is clouded by this picture of steely resistance?

To overcome this, simply shift the mind to the promises of divine grace found in the Scriptures. As a parent, focus your faith by meditating on a great biblical passage like Luke 15, in which you see the great images of faith. You discover the Father’s grace in action.  Lost things do not remain lost; they are found. The dead come alive. The lost sheep is found by the shepherd, the lost coin by the housewife, and the lost son is welcomed home with almost scandalous warmth by a loving father. When you think about these things, you’ll realize that the Father loves even you, the parent, as a lost child that has been found. Will he not love your child the same way?”

I agree with Mr. Miller’s advice.  We must cling God’s promises, though I wouldn’t use the word “simply” to describe the process of shifting the mind to God’s promises of grace.  It’s a battle to believe God can change the hardest heart, bring glory out of devastation, and make rebels into servants.  But God can do the impossible, even as he sought me when I was a self-centered, disrespectful, ungrateful, pleasure-seeking sinner and changed me.

Here are 2 promises (among many) to cling to and pray:

All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.  (Isaiah 54:13)

“And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from this time forth and forevermore.” (Isaiah 59:21)

photo by repolona