Walking the Walk

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, February 25, 2015 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Nobody likes a hypocrite. Those who say one thing and do the complete opposite lose respect for not only themselves but also for whatever causes they had been publicly championing. I can think of two examples, one from the secular world and one from the church, that illustrate my point. During my senior year of high school, I had an English teacher who was outspoken about almost everything. One day, a student must have mentioned the singer Madonna in a side conversation that my teacher overheard, because he just about lost his mind. The next thing I knew, he was going on about how if he ever met her again he would be disgusted to even look at her. He then shared how he had the chance to meet her one time and thought she was very nice. His opinion changed, however, when she gave birth to a child and declared that she wouldn’t be allowing her daughter to watch much TV or pay attention to other media because she didn’t want her to be exposed to all the garbage that is out there. This enraged my teacher because, as he put it, Madonna was one of the people single-handedly responsible for a large chunk of the depravity within the entertainment industry at that time!

As blatant as Madonna’s hypocrisy was, I’m not sure that many people were looking to her for parenting advice in the first place. Hypocrisy in the church carries potentially much greater consequences. If you paid any attention to the news between 2006 and 2010, you may be familiar with the name Ted Haggard. As you can read at that link, he was the pastor at a large church in Colorado and often spoke against activities that are specifically prohibited in Scripture. One of these was homosexuality, and Rev. Haggard publicly supported an amendment to the state constitution that would have banned same-sex marriages. However, a man who knew his secrets was enraged by the hypocrisy, so he outed the reverend for his actions of buying drugs and sexual favors from the man over the previous few years. Rev. Haggard denied it initially, but evidence was eventually presented that showed at least some guilt and he later admitted to most of the allegations. Rev. Haggard’s actions shamed himself, his specific congregation, and the name of Jesus Christ.

In Romans 2:17-29, the Apostle Paul addresses the Jews who are “boasting in God” and “relying on the law” (v. 17). In other words, they claimed to be superior to the immoral Gentiles because of their supposed observance of the law. But Paul has a strong message for them in the form of rhetorical questions. How can they teach others when they don’t abide by their own teachings? They preach against stealing, adultery, and idolatry, yet Paul seems to be drawing their attention to their own sins in those areas. To sum it all up, Paul says that they are actually “dishonoring” God by breaking the law and quotes a translation of Isaiah 52:5 where God says that his people are “blaspheming” his name “among the Gentiles” (Romans 2:23-24). Do we realize that the same thing is true for Christians today? If all we do is talk about our faith, it’s pretty much useless. Unless we also walk the walk, the unbelieving world who watches will see us as hypocrites and will see a misrepresentation of the God we claim to serve.

Paul continues in the passage to talk about circumcision, since that was the sign of the covenant that separated the Jews from everyone else. The problem was that the Jews focused only on the physical, outward sign and not what it represents. Paul says this is not truly indicative of those who follow God. “A person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God” (Romans 2:29). Did you catch that last part? The mark of a Christ-follower is not receiving praise from others for his high level of morality compared to other humans, but receiving praise from God for what’s in his heart.

Humility, repentance, and integrity are just a few of the important HEART characteristics that are expressed in true followers of Christ throughout the New Testament and just as much in believers today. Hypocrisy and boasting are opposites of those characteristics. We have to remember that, while being Christians may carry certain advantages, we have great responsibility as well. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:20 that “we are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” God makes his appeal through what he reveals to the world. He has revealed himself through creation, then through Christ, and now through us as the Holy Spirit lives in us. Walking the walk is not an option when it comes to the Christian life. It’s a necessity.

The good news for Ted Haggard and for every other believer that has ever walked this earth is that there is One who will not give up on hypocrites because sadly, that’s all he has to choose from. We are all hypocrites when we claim to be followers of Christ and share his teachings, then disobey them in our very lives. So rather than boast about what we are, let’s boast about who HE is. With humility, repentance, and integrity, let’s confess our shortcomings to him and to others so that we can point them directly to him no matter what they’ve done. Christ promises restoration for us and for anyone else who will humbly come to him. It’s time for us to lead the way in word AND in deed.