Can I take you at your word?
Hypocrisy – not practising what you preach – was an accusation Jesus levelled at some religious leaders in his time. For example, in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells the crowds:
[“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees]… tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. (Matthew 23:1-4)
‘You hypocrite’ is as powerful insult as it was then as it is today. It is bandied about a lot in political circles, particularly at the moment with all the various allegations around party-gate, beer-gate and whatever other gate the press have come up with. I bet many of us, including me, will have given others the ‘benefit of our view’ on the various leaders and their compliance or otherwise with the various Covid rules.
However, what about other aspects of our lives? Are we guilty of saying one thing and doing another?
I am keenly aware that I get to stand up in a pulpit on a Sunday and preach, and, if I am honest, there are times I ask myself, 'are you really practising what you have said?' No, not all of the time. But maybe the starting point for all of us is to admit that we fall short; that we are not perfect and that we seek forgiveness. On top of that, maybe we can also be a bit quicker to forgive others, especially those whom we might see as hypocrites.
Jesus came to save us all, not just the non-hypocrites, and that even includes our political leaders, of whatever persuasion, accused of living it up while we were locked down.
Readings for Sunday
Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, ‘Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?’ Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, ‘I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” But I replied, “By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.” But a second time the voice answered from heaven, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, “Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.” And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?’ When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, ‘Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.’
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his host!
Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling his command!
Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
Wild animals and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!
Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and women alike,
old and young together!
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his faithful,
for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
‘See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.’
And the one who was seated on the throne said, ‘See, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.
When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’
Readings for the week ahead
Monday (Caroline Chisholm, Social Reformer, 1877)
Acts 14.5-18; Psalm 118.1-3, 14-15; and John 14.21-26
Acts 14.19-end; Psalm 145.10-end; and John 14.27-end
Acts 15.1-6; Psalm 122.1-5; and John 15.1-8
Thursday (Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, Restorer of Monastic Life, 988)
Exodus 31.1-5; Psalm 21.1-7, 13; 2 Corinthians 5.1-10 and Matthew 24.42-46
Friday (Alcuin of York, Deacon, Abbot of Tours, 804)
Isaiah 61.10 - 62.3; Psalm 123; Colossians 3.12-16 and John 4.19-24