One of the biggest reasons people say they hate the church is because it is full of hypocrites.
We all know what a hypocrite is… someone you SAYS one thing, but does another (usually opposite) thing.
Sure, according to that definition… a lot of church folks ARE indeed hypocrites. But, then again, so are so MANY people (inside or outside the church). It seems to me that one of the biggest problems we have in the human community is that we ALL want to be part of the ‘IN’ group (however we define that: popular, faithful, rich, celebrity, political, etc.) and we are ALL uncomfortable being rejected (part of the ‘OUT’ group). Often, this desire is SO strong that we are likely to say and do things that make us look like we ‘fit in’ even if we really don’t.
That’s called peer pressure. And, peer pressure, is very powerful indeed. Most of us can remember the trials and tribulations of peer pressure when we were in high school or grade school, but we can all admit it goes on for us still, today, at our jobs, in our community and social groups… and yes, even the church.
Our Scripture reflection this week is Matthew 23 and in it Jesus is criticizing the religious leaders for saying one thing, but doing another. But, his accusations go deeper than just simple hypocrisy. Implied in his critique is that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day relied more on their ‘show’ of faithfulness (by doing, saying, and acting in a certain way) than on their trust in God.
When God is FIRST, Jesus teaches, peer pressure no longer bites as hard. When we are in God’s ‘IN’ group… being in the ‘OUT’ groups of the world no longer matters as much.