So, of course, it was my mission in middle school to set the record straight every time I heard the word “hypocrite.” And, of course, I was correct. But what I couldn’t wrap my concrete-thinking mind around was this: why wasn’t the true knowledge of the word changing the way people were using it against Christians? This was going to be tougher than I thought.
Well I know now, and you do, too, that it is more than just what the word means. It is the history behind it, an excuse that works, and a Christian worldview that needs some tweaking. Okay overhauling.
So I decided that I couldn’t control what others were thinking, but I could control my actions and my thoughts. If I wanted others to think of me and not have the word “hypocrite” on their tongues, then I needed to talk the talk AND walk the walk.
In college, I began to work with middle school and high school students doing youth ministry internship at a church in Abilene, TX. Just coming out of high school, I knew this culture fairly well and if I was not going to be a hypocrite (doing what we were telling others not to do), I would become a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week, 365-days-a-year example. I would not drink, smoke, do drugs, have pre-marital sex, say curse words (this one may not have worked out so well), or go to parties. And let’s face it, this is what the world meant, right? This worked out really well for me (with the exception of a few choice words when extreme stress hit), mainly because I didn’t do these things anyway. I didn’t drink, smoke, do drugs, have sex (I was lucky to have a girlfriend), and if you have ever seen my dance moves, you know parties weren’t going to happen. Although this is a lot of tongue-in-cheek, this became my standing answer for how I was living spiritually. It became my new legalism. I got jobs because this was my answer. And seriously, I really did this and lived up to it, even after I turned 21.
That was almost 20 years ago and I’m still hearing the hypocrite call and debate. Why can’t we get past this? Well there a few truths and an Aha! moment for me that is worth saying.