Monday, 4 July 2016

Common Hypocrisy - Sunday 3rd July 2016

Hypocrisy is common. When St Peter visited the Christians in Antioch (Galatians 2), he was keen to endorse the multicultural community of Jesus’ followers there. He ate and drank with them without showing any concern for the strict food laws that he personally valued. Well done Peter!
However, when a group of strictly-observant Jewish disciples arrived from Jerusalem - representing Peter’s co-leader, James - Peter did a sudden U-turn. He didn’t want these influential visitors to see him eating with ‘Gentiles’. St Paul was furious at Peter’s hypocrisy, and publicly criticised him for his shallowness.
Needless to say, Christianity survived Peter’s hypocrisy. The teaching of Jesus continued to spread around the world, even though - sadly - the Jesus movement eventually separated from mainstream Judaism.
The root cause of Peter’s hypocrisy was simply that he wanted to be liked by the people on both sides of the current dispute, but he couldn’t please both groups at the same time. We all fall down that gap on occasion.
Hypocrisy is common, particularly among people who hold strongly to a certain set of values. It is very hard to promote the challenging values of Jesus’ teaching, and not fall into hypocrisy. If we tried to purge all the hypocrites from our churches, we would soon have no-one left. It is better that we be gentle with our criticism and quick with our forgiveness.
Hypocrisy is common. Gracious forgiveness must be even more abundant.

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