Dealing with Hypocrisy and Hubris in the Church and Among Christians

I hate the new blogger interface. There, I said it. 

Something else: this is such an interesting period of time. I can't believe how lackadaisical people are during a global pandemic. I get not wanting to worry, but to just constantly continue to live like [insert whatever insult here] while ignoring the reality that this pandemic is literally killing people, continues to amaze me. People are throwing all kinds of parties, going to restaurants, pretty much living life as they did before Covid. And I don't just mean the regular ignorant ones that protest mask wearing, I mean people like you and me. Scientists, even. My Instagram feed is revealing y'all. It's such a shame. But okay.

Let's move on.



I recently read Matthew 23. It's not my first time reading it, and I am almost certain I have blogged about it before (currently too lazy to look for it Lol). But like most great things, this is worth repeating. The main question at the forefront of my mind is, why don't pastors talk more about this passage? I'm looking at you, Nigerian pastors. I think it's because this chapter was basically Jesus throwing serious shade at them. Yes, contemporary, modern-day pastors. Let me explain.

So, the disciples were just chilling. 

No one:

Quite Literally No one:

And then,

Jesus: These teachers of the religious law and these Pharisees who are official interpreters of the law of Moses never practice what they preach.

Like okay, read them, Jesus! Read them. Basically, Christ was irritated by the fact that these teachers of the Law crushed people with "unbearable religious demands" and never tried to ease the demands. It's almost machiavellian. It felt like they took pleasure in seeing people struggle with these mostly man-made, arbitrary rules. They made noise about rules and laws that they themselves could never obey or comply with. Does that sound even vaguely familiar?

But Christ was not done. Everything these teachers of the law did was for show. They pray for show. They *ahem* post quote upon quote from the Bible for show. They perform their religion for the sake of appearing pious. They post all kinds of scathing social media posts to remind you how you are not being a good Christian, and only ever post themselves in a good light. They only ever share how they have never sinned, or how good they are at reading the bible, or how amazing they are at recognizing the distinct voice of God. Yes, shade. For them, it's never about the heart. For them, it's a lot about receiving the accolades. Like the Pharisees and the Teachers of the religious Law in Jesus's time, too many people, too many pastors love to sit at the head table at "banquets". They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk around.

"Yes, pastor sir!"

"Yes, Daddy!"

They love when everyone kneels or bows or idolizes them because they are pastors. They believe they are above reproach.

"Touch not my anointed," they and their sycophants always readily say. 

They, as in the Pharisees, love the flattery, the adulation. 

The similarity was staggering. It felt like Jesus was here and now and calling these people out. It's becoming worse because it's moving from real life to followers on Instagram. They love being the authority on everything "Christian". They are the only ones with the manual on being a true Christian. Christ warned against titles for they can easily create separation and superiority in the church.

"Don't let anyone call you 'Rabbi' for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters. And don't address anyone here on earth as 'Father' for only God in heave is your Father." 
- verses 8-9

I mulled and mulled on these verses and it occurred to me that a lot of pastors would never ever agree to being equal to their congregation. Somehow, over the years, either by themselves or from others, a lot of men of God have elevated themselves as higher than the rest of us. I am not kidding. It's why many revel in being called "Daddy" or "Father".  Except, clear as the day Jesus says to not call any of them father. 

Which brings me to, what is the rationale behind calling your pastor Daddy? I don't get it. Never have. Probably never will. And if you call your pastor "Daddy",  I truly truly want to hear from you. 

Why have people chosen to exalt themselves? The way of the world is to put yourself first, to exalt yourself, and brag "on yourself". The way of the world is pride and arrogance. But the way of Jesus is anything but. Time after time after time, he showed us true humility. Why, then, is it that Christian leaders find it so incredibly hard to humble themselves? Why do they exalt themselves in a way Jesus frowned upon? Jesus was counter-cultural in many ways and maybe even slightly confusing in some, but he was clear on what and who he stood for. This is how I know that to be a follower of Jesus is to care about justice. about mercy. about faith. 

"What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens,[a] but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things" v 23

Since I started writing this post, a LOT has happened (it's 2020 after all).  The point being you cannot enforce stringent, meaningless rules over dress codes under the guise of so-called modesty and then you turn around to post a picture of yourself with your pants unzipped [breaking the very rules you decry students for breaking]. Which brings me to: you can't call yourself a party of "family values" and vehemently endorse and back a person with numerous wives who boasts of grabbing women by the pussy. You can't be pro life because it's what Jesus would do and then turn around to lock little kids in cages. You can't be the Christian party and deny people healthcare. No, you can't. You can't do both. You have to pick one. 

I want to stop here now because this is reading like a full on rant and I did not mean for it to be that way at all. I have to be careful. People's hypocrisy can never be an excuse for me to be hypocritical myself. So while there is anger, there is hopefully no judgement. I don't know that these pastors will see this, I can only hope they do.  It's so easy to judge the Pharisees/Teachers of the Law as hypocritical, but the truth is they genuinely thought they were doing what was right. They actually KNEW the law, all of it. So they must have been completely sure they were on the right side of things and I find that so humbling. SO completely humbling. It's very easy to think YOU are on the right side of history even if you're not. This is why it is incredibly important to always evaluate yourself. Be sure you are not just having mere hubris.   I too get angry at that hypocrisy, but then I wonder, in what area am I being a hypocrite myself? Because again, the hypocrisy of others is not an excuse for your to be hypocrites. BUT

If your righteousness is just for show, if it's just for others to see, then what is the point? Ask yourself that.

Again, it's worth asking, do modern day pastors ever read Matthew 23 and feel guilty because, yikes. Christ went IN. He called them fools, hypocrites, sons of hell. To be honest, Christ continually reminds us that it is sometimes okay to be pissed, to be direct, and to not mince words when it comes to impropriety. So if you're mad at nonsense and someone says is that what Jesus would do, say yes. Christ was passionate. Christ was angry at hypocrisy.

So how do you deal with hypocrisy? Like Jesus did, call it out. But while we seek to act like Jesus did, ultimately we are *not* Jesus. We are not perfect like Jesus. So we must tamper our actions with mercy.  I will leave you with my most recent favorite quote, by Robert Madu:

Grace without truth is meaningless
Truth without grace is just mean


Love,

I

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