“DON’T YOU DARE BE A HYPOCRITE…”

I was speaking to the leader of a church network recently and during our conversation he said: ‘I like you. You say you’re outward focused and you really are. Some people say they are outward focused but in reality they’re not!’

I’ve been musing on our conversation quite a bit since then. It’s obviously great that he likes me but that wasn’t what struck me. I was struck by his observation that many leaders were claiming to be something they are not.

This struck me for two reasons:

1. Since when did it become OK for Christians to claim to be something they are not?

2. Why do so many people focus inward on the church instead of outward to their communities?

When I became a Christian it’d be fair to say my family weren’t overly thrilled. My mum thought all Christians were hypocrites. She told me in no uncertain terms that she didn’t mind me being a Christian but ‘don’t you dare be a hypocrite…’ I knew that if she ever caught me saying I was something I wasn’t – I’d be in big trouble.

Tozer once said: ‘the church began in power, moved in power and moved as long as she had power. When she no longer had power she dug in for safety and sought to conserve her gains!’ Unfortunately, I think Tozer is right – too many of us are simply digging in for safety and trying to maintain what we’ve got; rather than working hard to see the Kingdom come.

Last year I went to the 15th Anniversary celebration for an organisation that does amazing work with marginalised young people in London. About 400 people attended this celebration. On the other side of London 3,250 people had gathered for a worship event to pray for revival.

I have to confess that I did wonder what would happen if those 3,250 people joined the organisation I was with as volunteers. I wondered if they’d see revival come if they actually got involved instead of – just – attending conferences and events.

I think that a vibrant faith includes risk taking, adventure, sacrifice and the willingness to be the answer to your own prayers. You’d expect to me to say that I think that attending events and conferences are great things to do. But if they ever become a replacement for getting involved in our communities or churches we’ve got a massive problem.

A church leader friend of mine told me recently that he wants to see revival come to his town. While he and his church are waiting and praying for that to happen they are working to ‘revive’ their town. They run a free festival every summer; school breakfast clubs every day and a whole host of other community activities. They are being the answer to their own prayers… and their town is noticing the difference.

So come on let’s be what we supposed to be – look outward, get involved, take a few risks and see what God does with us.

Stuff to think about…

Why do you think that some Christians find it easier to be inward focused rather than outward focused?

Have you ever fallen into this way of thinking?

 

9 thoughts on ““DON’T YOU DARE BE A HYPOCRITE…”

  1. Bekah Legg

    I think so many Christians are inward focused because it’s easy, takes no effort – it’s the way we were before we found God. It’s all about me and making sure I get what I need and want. The journey from that place to the place where we genuinely think about how we can change the world (without our own reputation being the motivating factor in that) is a hard and costly road that involves us being prepared to let parts of us go, die even.

    I think that sometimes the church has become guilty of selling Christianity short. Instead of talking about the long hard journey of faith we’ve turned it into a one stop shop where people can come to get their hurts healed, their energy refilled, their hopes lifted and once a week they can feel great as they sing at the top of their lungs. And all of that is part of the truth. But not the whole truth.

    The whole truth involves a cost – an enormous cost of self. We’ve told people to come as they are but forgotten to add that they need to give all that they are. I think that sometimes we water down the gospel to make it more attractive. We tell people what they will get out of it if they follow – forgive and it will release you, give and get more in return, serve and you will be rewarded, if not here then in heaven.

    I think we’ve bought into the ‘me’ culture and it’s almost as if we try to bribe people to be like Jesus – ‘cos it will be worth your while – and your worth it’. And of course it will and they are -but if we give to get, we’re not really giving are we?

    Maybe we need to get more honest with the people we are looking to bring into the church and introduce to Jesus – maybe if we talk about the cost and the sacrifice as well as the extraordinary grace and love, they’ll know what they’re signing up to, maybe the decisions they make will be more informed and the lives that they go on to lead will be more authentic.

    Reply
    1. wendybeechward Post author

      Bekah. You are one wise lady. I think we are so keen for people to ‘get saved’ which obviously isn’t a wrong motivation that we often fail to explain the reality of the choice they are making for fear of putting them off.
      I was part of meeting of leaders recently and we recognised (confessed even) that we’d oversold the gospel and undersold the cost.

      Reply
  2. Steve Blundell

    Hey Wendy thanks for your post.

    Love the call to action, let’s get involved!!

    I’m not sure though that you can make a direct relation to those praying and those getting involved. In our experience those who turn up for a prayer meeting, tend to be those who roll up their sleeves and get involved.

    Prayer is the key to keeping outward focused.

    As we spend time with Jesus for Him alone. As we walk with Him follow Him, spend time talking with Him, learning for His word – we see the world as Jesus sees it. We see a world desperate for a Lord. As we re-image Jesus, as we develop our picture of Him, we will pray like He does for the world.

    As we pray we will want to get involved in projects, our money becomes more useful and we seek His glory before our own.

    As Jesus is lifted high in our congregations, we will through Gods grace and Holy Spirit become people who are outward focused. We will pray and DO!

    As you say we can and should become answers to our prayers! Thanks again. Look forward to future posts. Be blessed.

    Reply
  3. Tanya Marlow

    This is the second post of yours recently that has really challenged me. I think I am challenged precisely because of your lack of hypocrisy; your integrity and determination to make a difference, even at personal cost, and not just take the easy way.

    I think possibly the reason that we fail to get involved in our communities as much as we should are because it’s hard. It’s much more likely to be a failure than if we focus our energies on worship and good Christian meetings. The church is sadly not immune from the ‘bigger is better’ philosophy of the world, and, as you so rightly pointed out, it’s easier to go to the popular conference and get ‘fed’ than the smaller one and serve. I think I would probably like to go to the popular one, myself…!

    I think this is the sin of the western church (and I include myself in this) that we are too married to comfort to be truly radical. Half of me wants this to change – but the other half doesn’t want to be uncomfortable! I guess that’s the heart of the problem.

    Thanks for making me think,

    Reply
    1. wendybeechward Post author

      Thanks Tanya.
      Truth is I didn’t really understand what my mum meant when she first said it to me. But I knew not being what you said you were was a heinous crime to her… Worse in so many ways and for so many reasons.
      So my desire to be authentic came out of that more than anything else. Over time it’s become about being a true as I can be to what I believe God has every right to expect of me.

      I think we need to recapture what it means to live a life of generosity, grace, kindness and love. I totally agree with you that it’s easy to fall into the ‘bigger is better’ mentality – it’s easy to count ‘heads’ in a venue! And being counter cultural within the Christian community is almost harder to do and less popular to do than other places. But I think (desperately hope) it’s possible to be more radical in the way our faith is lived out.
      xx

      Reply
  4. Jessie Joe

    I think the church is inward focus often because they don’t know any better. I picture it a bit like them enjoying the scraps of an amazing banquet, which as scraps go is pretty decent; but in some ways these scraps are innoculating them to the knowledge that there is an amazing banquet waiting for them outside the 4 walls of the church. They not hungry enough to leave, not hungry enough to risk it all, not hungry enough to search for more, not hungry enough to want a more powerful gospel or a more radical Christianity.

    Reply
  5. Lowell Sheppard

    Amen to all of that Wendy. It is disheartening to see that `revival` is part of the church`s lexicon and invoked so frequently. In my view a major distraction to the mission of every christian . . . to celebrate life and serve others . . . .

    Reply

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