Christians are often accused of being hypocrites. It’s probably on the top three list of most people outside the church. As Rev. Charlie Parker discussed tonight in his sermon, the word hypocrisy comes from the Greek word meaning to wear a mask or to play a role. Where we get into trouble is in the space in between the mask we show to the world and the authentic self that lies behind it. Sometimes that authentic self comes out and when it does not appear to be the same as the mask we wear, the world cries “hypocrite!”.
Part of the problem comes from the fact that, as Christians, we are people of vision. People who lift up a vision for ourselves and our communities: places of justice, places of love, places of welcome. These are the claims we make about ourselves. But they are also the marks of which we fall far short. And the world cries, “hypocrites!”
So, do we abandon aspirational claims for ourselves? Do we simply label ourselves as “sinners” and seek to be nothing more? No, we are called to be perfect in love. But so long as there is a gap between that aspiration and the reality, we can at least do three things. First, we can be self-aware enough to know of the gap and to own it. Second, we can engage in more truth-telling, in love, in order to create and maintain authentic Christian relationship, and to challenge ourselves to admit when we’re falling short. And third, we can seek the disciplines that can help to move us along the way, so that our aspirations are not simply some distant hoped-for reality, but a reality which we are actively living into with every step we take.