Song of the Month: Good Monsters by Jars Of Clay
“Mama, what’s a Hypocrite?” My eight year old daughter asked as we braved the morning drive to school. I’d just demonstrated how to be a hypocrite by calling someone else one.
“It’s another word for Humanity.” I said in the spirit of true sarcasm.
She knew my tones well enough to respond with a sarcastic laugh herself and say, “No really, what does it mean?”
So I gave her the less realistic Webster definition. “It is someone who says one thing while does the opposite. Like, “Hey don’t cut in front of me”, but then they cut in front of someone else.
“Like that guy just cut us off?”
“Yes. When if I did that to him, he’d probably shoot me.” She laughed again at her still brilliant mama. But then I felt the awesome pang of guilt due to all Christians who say one thing while doing another.
“We are all hypocrites Libber. I was one when I called that man a hypocrite. I tell you not to call names, but then I just did it. So…sorry.”
I proceeded to go on with my mama diatribe about this is why we need God to help show us our blind spots, how we have a hard time seeing things from the right perspective when our eyes are on ourselves…and blah…blah…blah…
She now tuned me out as we approached the end of school car line and said, “ K Mom. Quick. Pray for me.”
So I did what I do everyday at that spot and prayed weakly…”Lord help us not to be hypocrites. Protect my girl today and give her joy.” Amen.
As I drove away I couldn’t help but think about it all. Hypocrisy. The Science of it all came to me first.
The Evolutionist and Sociologist would say we are the way we are because it is a matter of Evolution. Survival of the fittest. A baby screams and fights for the things that are theirs and they need to survive. We grow to do the same throughout our life. The weakest in the pack doesn’t survive. Or do they? Which pack are we talking about? Which continent and in what situation?
If we use this thought to apply to the guy on the road with me today…well, he ended up getting just as stuck in traffic as me. Right in front of me to be exact. And the flailing of his arms seemed to show me:
1. He was going to give himself a heart attack.
2. His selfishness was going to get him killed in a car accident. Maybe.
If we use Cultural Sociology to interpret his actions, then we say, well, it looks like he wasn’t raised right. His parents perhaps didn’t care enough to give him the values of our culture and that caused him to not consider others or obey the Laws of our society. He drove down the shoulder to get ahead of everyone. That’s just plan wrong in our society. This is probably just one of many ways he’s been taught to cheat those around him. It was the family culture he was raised in that brought him to this ugly reality in his life.
If we use Freud or some form of Psychology to interpret his actions, then he is mostly likely suffering from some sort of envy of something. His feelings of less-than-ness are causing his narcissism.
The Humanitarian will say it’s because he’s not found his purpose yet. When he finds the joy of serving others and loving others, he will change.
The Christian will call it his sin nature. The desire to be God above all else.
My thoughts went on. Why is this man such a dud? And why do I feel justified in judging him when I can be the same way? Why am I such a hypocrite?
Unfortunately, the Christian worldview doesn’t stop us from being hypocrites. In fact, our high standards almost make it inevitable that we’ll excel in hypocrisy. Hypocrisy occurs when our ideals are put to the test. It occurs in the moment we come face to face with something that seems more pleasing to us than our ideals. It felt better to me (in the moment) to call that man a name rather than hold to my Christian ideals.
The fact of the matter is, we all live like evolutionists, while hoping others will live like Christian humanitarians. In our brokenness, we seek first to be the fittest in our kingdom and expect others to live out The Golden Rule. Yet it seems to me, the actual fittest among us are those who strive to live The Golden Rule. As weak as it may seem on the surface, the one living for the advancement of others actually wins. They are not stressed with self-survival, the need to be first, and the frustration brought on by the front-of-the-line-frenzy.
There is a reason why we all love the great humanitarians of history. Just thinking of Mother Teresa, Amy Carmichael, or MLKJ makes me feel enlightened. Peaceful. Christ-like. Yet the strength of my heroes is not in their power, their judgment, or their cynicism. Their influence was that they lay down their life for the life of someone else. Someone seen as less than. And THIS is what made them the STRONGEST in our human pack. The lives of those I admire exhibit that culture-less truth that Christ modeled to us. “Treat others how you want to be treated” (Matt. 7:12). Even non-Christians like Gandhi fought their own hypocrisy with this Christian mantra. Gandhi vowed not to eat until those at war in his country began treating one another how they wanted to be treated. Rather than striving like the evolutionist does to be on top of the trash heap, those who live out the Golden Rule build a whole new world paradigm.
In letting someone go in front of me, I will never be cut off. In laying down my life, my life can never be stolen. In not striving for more, I will never feel less.
So how do we conquer our own Hypocrisy?
1. First we must be honest about it. Confess it. Ask God to help us identify it. Or ask our kids!
2. Change our perspective on what we perceive to be beneficial to us. When we truly begin to live out Matt 7:12, we will begin to defeat our own hypocrisy. If we must strive, strive to treat others how we want to be treated, and experience the freedom.
If I’m going to teach my daughter anything that matters in this life, it will be this; that identifying and eliminating hypocrisy starts with me.