Tag Archive: hypocrite


i refer to John 15.4 all the time:

 ‘Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.’

and i also love o use Psalm 46.10 which talks about being still and knowing that I [God] am God:

‘He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”’

and lately i’ve been hearing myself speak [write] them and then being hit mid sentence by the fact that i’m not really living them. i mean i kinda am, but not really. i’ve been distracted by the IPL fantasy dream league cricket which has happily coincided with my waking up times [finished today – hooray!] and then the day hits and carries on until bed time. and i steal moments away for God, and take time to remember important people and situations in prayer [as there have been a lot of them lately] and somehow use that to justify or get me through the day. but i know better.

i am the vine you are the branchesthis isn’t a new thing. i feel like i have a distractionary personality or tendency, which does not mean i am blaming how i am for how i have been – and it doesn’t have to be a specific distraction either, which maybe makes it harder cos it’s not about getting a handle on Words with Friends or Mousehunt or Poker or whatever the next thing is, cos it seems like there will always be a next thing… it is more about being aware of what the tendency is and putting in the hard work [and more importantly discipline, and schedule often helps for me] to avoid getting into those spaces. and also to remind myself daily what the priorities are: God, my beautiful wife Valerie, my family and friends, kingdom things…

i feel like it is so important to live the preach before i preach the preach cos the definition of a hypocrite is pretty much the opposite of that. the word hypocrite incidentally came from the word they used for actor [a person pretending to be something they are not] and so it is very apt.

i certainly don’t believe that i need to have it all together before i speak or write or challenge, but i need to be at least walking that road.

and today was a bit of an injection of that for me today – i don’t think it was a case of a whole bunch of time with God and so now i’m okay – more like a Red Bull sip of God and so i have the energy to get me to the place where i need to be to put in the work to get things back to being good with God. but it was a great start. some good worship vibes. some inspiration to film a couple of the next walk through Mark videos i’m doing and suddenly it started to all come alive again. i always find when i’m speaking out Truth it becomes or feels the most Truthful to me. so that was great.

it’s a start. a getting back on the road. a little bit of dusting off. and it’s good. looking forward to this week ahead.

so last nite we had another incredible time with enGAGE – our church congregation – i preached a talk called ‘The Crit of the Hippo’ – crit being and assessment, a mark, an evaluation… and hippo being a really big creature… so The Big Evaluation essentially… and of course the words ‘crit’ and ‘hippo’ combining nicely to form the word ‘hypocrite’ of which the original meaning was simply actor – so being someone you are not, or as the Cretans liked to do – ‘claiming to know God but by their actions denying Him’ [Titus 1.16]

during worship an older (50ish) homelessly looking white woman walked in to the service and then out through the back towards the hall and the toilets – my beautiful wife (aka the beautiful Val) came up to me twenty minutes later asking where she was and she had completely slipped my mind so i said i wasn’t sure and she went off to find her… apparently she found he naked (or close to, with a rag wrapped around her waist) taking a bath in our bathroom (well using the sink to give herself a clean) with Lindri, one of the other ladygirls in our church hanging out with her…

Lindri then came to me afterwards – after a fine preach and some interaction on being a hypocrite or matching what we say we are with who we are – and said that the woman needed a place to stay and she had no money and could we take her to the shelter…

and that’s where it becomes real, and uncomfortable, and messy, and confusing… cos i honestly didn’t know what to do – i did know that the hostel – which is more than likely full – has a cut off time and was most likely closed – i do know that we have a general policy of not giving money to people on the streets although we also have a policy of doing what we can to help them and at the very least buying them something to eat or maybe helping out with clothes and stuff – but the reality of last nite was there was an in-your-face situation and i didn’t know what to do and so we missed it

and later in bed tbV quizzed me about the whole thing which made me quite upset cos i knew i hadn’t know what the right answer was and cos we hadn’t really done anything (except not thrown her out of our church for taking a bath which i guess would put us ahead of at least one or two other churches) and cos it meant i had to think about it again and feel guilty and not just snuggle down in my warm bed and conveniently not have it invade my thoughts

Jesus said ‘whatever you don’t do for the least of these, you don’t do for Me’ and that is a haunting piece of scripture on any occasion you don’t give money or food, or walk past someone who is lying in the gutter…

another probably reality is that if we did take her home and give her a place to stay for one night, what then? Send her out the next night to sleep in the cold? Adopt her completely and have another person in our home and in our lives to feed and look after? And then the following week there will be two people in church wanting a place to stay and by then our house is more than full (legally i don’t even think we are allowed extra tenants but i don’t think that’s necessarily the point)

as a community we have been helping one of our own guys who has been struggling with a place to stay and money recently and so a bunch of us have done a little bit to help him out – there is a car guard at Ginos, our local restaurant hangout, who a couple of our guys have befriended and we are in the process of organising him a French bible – and there are kids from kayamandi and cloetesville and vlottenberg who a bunch of okes are engaging with every week and building into… so we are doing something

but none of that really helps that old lady from last nite and i am not satisfied that me not knowing what to do and doing nothing is even close to enough – i didn’t feel a specific prompting by God to do anything specific but as tbV said well hasn’t God already told us what to do in His word and yes. the least of these

so i don’t know. It’s easy to have answers when you are not faced with situations (and people). It’s easy to have theory and preach that powerfully or effectively. It’s easy to avoid or ignore or come up with some kind of justificationary thort or reasoning or whatever

all i know is i feel crap that we didn’t help that lady. I feel crap that i didn’t know what to do. I am glad she felt the freedom to hang out and take a bath in our bathroom and i am glad that some of the women from our congregation engaged with her and hopefully shared some life and love

so what’s your answer then?

this is an article/letter by one of my modern day heroes – a guy called shane claiborne who wrote one of my top three books ‘The Irresistible Revolution’ which was basically a search for any Christians who actually believed and lived out the stuff of the Bible – highly recommended if you have not read it yet – and who i got to hang out with for a bit at a surfers conference two years ago and interview – someone sent me a link to this note and i don’t have the link but i don’t think shane would mind…

What If Jesus Meant All That Stuff?

This radical Christian’s ministry for the poor, The Simple Way, has gotten him in some trouble with his fellow Evangelicals. We asked him to address those who don’t believe.

By Shane Claiborne

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To all my nonbelieving, sort-of-believing, and used-to-be-believing friends: I feel like I should begin with a confession. I am sorry that so often the biggest obstacle to God has been Christians. Christians who have had so much to say with our mouths and so little to show with our lives. I am sorry that so often we have forgotten the Christ of our Christianity.

Forgive us. Forgive us for the embarrassing things we have done in the name of God.

The other night I headed into downtown Philly for a stroll with some friends from out of town. We walked down to Penn’s Landing along the river, where there are street performers, artists, musicians. We passed a great magician who did some pretty sweet tricks like pour change out of his iPhone, and then there was a preacher. He wasn’t quite as captivating as the magician. He stood on a box, yelling into a microphone, and beside him was a coffin with a fake dead body inside. He talked about how we are all going to die and go to hell if we don’t know Jesus.

Some folks snickered. Some told him to shut the hell up. A couple of teenagers tried to steal the dead body in the coffin. All I could do was think to myself, I want to jump up on a box beside him and yell at the top of my lungs, “God is not a monster.” Maybe next time I will.

The more I have read the Bible and studied the life of Jesus, the more I have become convinced that Christianity spreads best not through force but through fascination. But over the past few decades our Christianity, at least here in the United States, has become less and less fascinating. We have given the atheists less and less to disbelieve. And the sort of Christianity many of us have seen on TV and heard on the radio looks less and less like Jesus.

At one point Gandhi was asked if he was a Christian, and he said, essentially, “I sure love Jesus, but the Christians seem so unlike their Christ.” A recent study showed that the top three perceptions of Christians in the U. S. among young non-Christians are that Christians are 1) antigay, 2) judgmental, and 3) hypocritical. So what we have here is a bit of an image crisis, and much of that reputation is well deserved. That’s the ugly stuff. And that’s why I begin by saying that I’m sorry.

Now for the good news.

I want to invite you to consider that maybe the televangelists and street preachers are wrong — and that God really is love. Maybe the fruits of the Spirit really are beautiful things like peace, patience, kindness, joy, love, goodness, and not the ugly things that have come to characterize religion, or politics, for that matter. (If there is anything I have learned from liberals and conservatives, it’s that you can have great answers and still be mean… and that just as important as being right is being nice.)

The Bible that I read says that God did not send Jesus to condemn the world but to save it… it was because “God so loved the world.” That is the God I know, and I long for others to know. I did not choose to devote my life to Jesus because I was scared to death of hell or because I wanted crowns in heaven… but because he is good. For those of you who are on a sincere spiritual journey, I hope that you do not reject Christ because of Christians. We have always been a messed-up bunch, and somehow God has survived the embarrassing things we do in His name. At the core of our “Gospel” is the message that Jesus came “not [for] the healthy… but the sick.” And if you choose Jesus, may it not be simply because of a fear of hell or hope for mansions in heaven.

Don’t get me wrong, I still believe in the afterlife, but too often all the church has done is promise the world that there is life after death and use it as a ticket to ignore the hells around us. I am convinced that the Christian Gospel has as much to do with this life as the next, and that the message of that Gospel is not just about going up when we die but about bringing God’s Kingdom down. It was Jesus who taught us to pray that God’s will be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” On earth.

One of Jesus’ most scandalous stories is the story of the Good Samaritan. As sentimental as we may have made it, the original story was about a man who gets beat up and left on the side of the road. A priest passes by. A Levite, the quintessential religious guy, also passes by on the other side (perhaps late for a meeting at church). And then comes the Samaritan… you can almost imagine a snicker in the Jewish crowd. Jews did not talk to Samaritans, or even walk through Samaria. But the Samaritan stops and takes care of the guy in the ditch and is lifted up as the hero of the story. I’m sure some of the listeners were ticked. According to the religious elite, Samaritans did not keep the right rules, and they did not have sound doctrine… but Jesus shows that true faith has to work itself out in a way that is Good News to the most bruised and broken person lying in the ditch.

It is so simple, but the pious forget this lesson constantly. God may indeed be evident in a priest, but God is just as likely to be at work through a Samaritan or a prostitute. In fact the Scripture is brimful of God using folks like a lying prostitute named Rahab, an adulterous king named David… at one point God even speaks to a guy named Balaam through his donkey. Some say God spoke to Balaam through his ass and has been speaking through asses ever since. So if God should choose to use us, then we should be grateful but not think too highly of ourselves. And if upon meeting someone we think God could never use, we should think again.

After all, Jesus says to the religious elite who looked down on everybody else: “The tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom ahead of you.” And we wonder what got him killed?

I have a friend in the UK who talks about “dirty theology” — that we have a God who is always using dirt to bring life and healing and redemption, a God who shows up in the most unlikely and scandalous ways. After all, the whole story begins with God reaching down from heaven, picking up some dirt, and breathing life into it. At one point, Jesus takes some mud, spits in it, and wipes it on a blind man’s eyes to heal him. (The priests and producers of anointing oil were not happy that day.)

In fact, the entire story of Jesus is about a God who did not just want to stay “out there” but who moves into the neighborhood, a neighborhood where folks said, “Nothing good could come.” It is this Jesus who was accused of being a glutton and drunkard and rabble-rouser for hanging out with all of society’s rejects, and who died on the imperial cross of Rome reserved for bandits and failed messiahs. This is why the triumph over the cross was a triumph over everything ugly we do to ourselves and to others. It is the final promise that love wins.

It is this Jesus who was born in a stank manger in the middle of a genocide. That is the God that we are just as likely to find in the streets as in the sanctuary, who can redeem revolutionaries and tax collectors, the oppressed and the oppressors… a God who is saving some of us from the ghettos of poverty, and some of us from the ghettos of wealth.

In closing, to those who have closed the door on religion — I was recently asked by a non-Christian friend if I thought he was going to hell. I said, “I hope not. It will be hard to enjoy heaven without you.” If those of us who believe in God do not believe God’s grace is big enough to save the whole world… well, we should at least pray that it is.

Your brother,

Shane

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