Thursday, April 7, 2011

Holy Hypocrisy

20 And now, may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, all that is pleasing to him. Jesus is the great Shepherd of the sheep by an everlasting covenant, signed with his blood. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen. - Hebrews 13:20-21

I hate being called a hypocrite. But more often than I like, I hear that accusation being directed toward me. If only my accusers would just put themselves in my shoes, understood the full dynamics, had a better sense of the situation, I would almost wager a bet that they wouldn't be so critical of me saying one thing but doing another. After all, there is always more to the story than we know, right?

I was faced with a predicament the other day that was consuming my thoughts as I was driving home. It was enough that I wasn't even listening to one of my favorite talk-radio shows. As I agonized over the predicament, my eyes focused a scene that broke me from the mire of my quandary. In a yard along the highway, my gaze fell upon a man running behind a bicycle being pedaled by a youngster. As the little lass pedaled feverishly, she wobbled from side-to-side a bit, but never fell over because the man running behind had a firm grip on the seat of the bike. I believe it was safe to assume that what I was witnessing was a young father teaching his daughter how to ride a bike, without the training wheels. My assumption arose out of my own experience of both being the biker-in-training and the expectant father running behind. The scene vividly conjured up memories of learning to ride a bike and teaching both my daughters to do the same. In each scenario, I remember the words being uttered, "Don't let go Daddy!"

Of course, you know, daddy's do let go. It's part of growing up. The child learns to harness the power of centrifugal force and rides on to wheels, unaided by an exhaustive parent. It is often overlooked as a milestone of life, but maybe it needs to be elevated to one, because for many, this event marks the beginning of independence. Yet, it may also be the first testament of hypocrisy.

Okay, so what does learning to ride a bike have to do with being called a hypocrite, you may ask. Think of it this way, when we were on that bike seat for the first time and filled with fear and trepidation beckoned, "Don't let go!" did we really mean it? Are there children who really expect someone to always be running behind, with a firm grip? I could stop here, but this reality went far deeper.

Maybe my frustration over this ill-received admonishment came to a head immediately after I passed this milestone event. The words of a stanza of an old hymn began to nag me, haunt, me, convict me. "I Need Thee Every Hour..." Really? Do I really need God every hour? I wanted to scream, "Of course I do!" but does my life reflect my need for God? Do the things I do reflect my ingenuity or my dependence on my Creator?

I am beginning to think that I may be that child on the seat, wanting that safe and secure grip of a loving Father, until...I can do it on my own. Then, "Hands off, God. I can do it all by myself." Isn't that the way it is suppose to be? Isn't the role of a parent to train a child to do for themselves? Right?

That's the fallacy of my logic. I have allowed myself to come to believe that I am fully capable of handling my life perfectly well on my own. Not that I don't need God though. God can run right behind me and catch me if and when I fall. That's how I think it should be, or at least that is how I tend to live out much of my life.

God is not "hands off" though. When we profess Jesus as LORD of our life, it's our whole life, not just certain areas and not as a back-up to our failures and inadequacies. Though I have had years of theological training and moments of good ideas, I must remind myself daily that, yes, I Need God Every Hour. I need to pray about the little things as well as the big things. I must not rely on my cleverness and natural tendencies alone. When I think I can handle these situations alone, that I have enough experience and education that I don't need to "bother" God, then I am setting myself up for a fall.

No wonder I am so often faced with problems that seem too large to handle; they are, for me alone.

No wonder why I often feel at a lost and frustrated over the complexity of ministry and life.

No wonder that God calls me a hypocrite.

Godspeed,
Tim

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