Sunday, June 29, 2014

RYBS: Hypocrisy

Read Your Bible Series - Week Eight


Luke 6: 27-31Matthew 5: 43-48Matthew 10: 34-37Luke 12: 1-7John 7: 1-9

Oftentimes in our current social and political climate, a story of a hypocritical priest, pastor or other high profile religious leader will break almost weekly.  Whether it's the story of an LGBT bigot that gets caught in flagrante delicto with a partner of the same sex, or a religious leader who exhorts his religion of peace and love yet routinely displays a vile hatred of those who do not follow his religious tenets; it's easy to assume that hypocrisy comes as second nature to many of the leaders in the religious community.

I say that it comes that easy for them because the exact same behavior comes straight from the top.

Let's start with Jesus talking to a fairly large crowd in Luke 6: 27-31:
But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
That last bit should sound VERY familiar to everyone  "Do unto others..."  What a great message!  As a matter of fact, it's so great that this idea, or something very much like it, is so sound that it can be found in a multitude of cultures that predate Moses, Noah, Abraham, and most certainly Jesus himself.  Why?  Because there's really no way anyone could argue with that message.  Bravo, Jesus!

And here again, more messages of love in Matthew 5: 43-48:
You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Love, even for thine enemies... that is, until you've had just about enough and you need to introduce thine enemies to the business end of your holy broadsword.  Here's Jesus speaking again in Matthew 10: 34-37:
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law - a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Man against his father?  Daughter against his mother?  And what kind of monster would wish for this kind of violence and hatred between me and my children?  We just read about loving your enemy and turning the other cheek, yet if we follow that message, we're not worthy of Jesus.

Thanks, but no thanks, Jesus.  For the sake of my family, I'll take pride in my own lack of worth.

(Side note: Speaking of Mark 10, there's a fairly famous contradiction between this chapter and Mark 6.  Can you find it?)

Moving to a more specific message of hypocrisy, Jesus is speaking to a, "crowd of thousands," where he delivers this in Luke 12: 1-7:
Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.
"I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."
Again, this message of courage in the face of death should also sound familiar.  Even though the thought of suicide is frowned upon, it is routine for Christians to celebrate their own death and ascent into an infinite afterlife in heaven; as if they welcome their own demise so they can forever be in the presence of Jesus and the almighty.

So "what would Jesus do" in the face of those that seek to kill him?  The author of John gives us the answer:
After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to him, "Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world." For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
Therefore Jesus told them, "My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come." After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.
WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT, Jesus!?!?  Your time is not yet here?  What kind of excuse is that, you pansy?  Oh sure, the other guys can go about their business and get themselves killed, because you know, it's not yet your time and you're having a bad day where you're just not feeling up to facing your own doctrine...


It seems we've come full circle to yet another message that is older than Moses, Noah, Abraham, and even Jesus himself.  The creator of the Universe couldn't practice what he preached.

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