I wish every adult would take at least one rotation teaching a children's Sunday School class in his lifetime. The honesty kids have in the way they relate to one another is pretty amazing.
And their dishonesty can be down right hilarious!
I filled in for the teacher for our 3-5th grade class a couple of weeks ago and I did a lesson on the Body of Christ. And in order to help the kids get a grasp of the concept, I decided to ask them questions about why their various body parts were important.
"Hey kids, why are our ears important? Why are our eyes important? Why are our mouths important?" You get the picture.
I guess I should have been prepared for their answers... but I was not.
"Our ears are important so we can hear the preacher give his sermon!"
"Our eyes are important so we can read the Bible."
"Our mouths are important so we can pray and sing songs at church!"
Those little hypocrites! Here we are at church (with the preacher teaching their class, no less!) and when I asked these simple questions, they worked awfully hard to come up with answers they thought would meet my approval. I'm certain that in just about any other venue, they would have said things like, "We need our ears to hear others speak and our eyes to help us see where we're going and our mouths to eat and talk to others."
But noooo... in front of the preacher they had to get all religious!
It made me think about the games we play as adults. We do the exact same thing... we're just a whole lot more sophisticated.
We come to church and do more than put on our "Sunday best." We cover up our humanity. We hide our frailty and brokenness. We know that the problems of life are not easy... but at church, we can fit the answers into 30 minute sermons.
What if we simply practiced a little more honesty when we're with our church family? What if we let ourselves be a little more vulnerable? What would happen if we just stood up before people and said, "My life's a mess and I need to let you inside the walls because I need more than religious words today. Honestly... I'm a hypocrite."
Hey... I'm a preacher and I FULLY embrace the simplicity of grace and the Gospel. But I also want people to know... "My life's a mess."
If you've never read anything by Calvin Miller... go out today and find something he's written. Here's a quote I read just this week:
“What do unwounded servants do? They become arrogant, join country clubs, sell out to middle-class mediocrity... Only the protected have the privilege of making theology a discussion; the endangered cling to it and weep." (Calvin Miller, Into The Depths Of God, Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 2000, p. 144.)
That's the problem with hyprocrisy. It turns church into the realm of country-club Christians where "worship" is more about satisfying the pew sitters and not about satisfying the awesome God who specializes in messed up people.