You've heard the research, maybe even heard the direct accusations. Christians are hypocrites. I am not a fan of casting any large group into one particular category with one foul swoop, and so my instant reaction is to say, "wait a minute." I want to do a good PR job on us and manage our images a little, justifying behaviors or explaining away actions. I so badly don't want to be "one of them" that my indignation and holier than thou attitude, lands me right in the middle of "them" more than I would like.
Like it or not, this is a worthy topic to think about. Servers in restaurants complain about the Sunday lunch crowd, unbelievers feel judged by Christians, many who have held themselves up as people of God have been exposed to the general public as cheats, liars, adulterers and manipulators. At some level it is not too much to say, some have earned the reputation of Hypocrite and all of us have to now bear it. But the court of public opinion is not really the greatest concern for me, albeit important. What about God...what does He think?
I have spent time in Acts 5 with Ananias and Sapphira lately. What a sobering read that can be. And after much reflection I believe we are being taught something so powerful in this account that it can not be ignored. God acted harshly, swiftly, decisively with these two. Why? Others have lied, others have cheated, many still do. I firmly believe the issue at stake was hypocrisy. God is ever patient with us as we attempt to live in kingdom ways - often messing up and allowing temptations to overcome us. Yet, if our hearts are turned to Him and we are desirous of a surrendered life and are making attempts to that end, He continues to grace us with gifts of growth and change. However with A & S He sees right through to the heart. They had predetermined to appear religious, pious, holy, sacrificial, surrendered- but it was all a show. God will not have that. If our aim is to receive the admiration, praise and respect of our spiritual family by our acts of faith that are borne out of ill-motive and deception we can expect the wrath of God. They were claiming to be something they were not. God did not require their land or the proceeds from it. And yet they chose to try to deceive the Lord, the Apostles, the community of faith in order to appear more righteous than they were.
For many of us, we will not face such a drastic situation. But on a daily basis as we live for God I have been challenged to review my motives, my heart, my intent and to ask God to cleanse any ugliness from my heart. How thankful I am for mercy!