Sometimes I feel like I was put on this earth to be a hypocrite.
Just yesterday, I walked by my brother’s room and heard my two younger brothers and our friend, Dante, trying to find a definition for life. Joel said, “It’s all about love!” Austin said it was about work. As I passed the doorway I dropped off my two cents.
I said life is a responsibility.
I’ve been reading a great book by R. C. Sproul called The Holiness of God, and in it he devotes a chapter to what he calls “holy justice.” It’s probably the scariest thing I’ve ever read. And even as I write that, I know I wasn’t scared enough. Or else my life would be more changed than it is.
Anyway, the main point of the chapter is that we expect God’s mercy, so we don’t appreciate it. We often hear the complaint, “Why does God let bad things happen to good people?” This is the wrong mentality. God is ALWAYS long-suffering. The problem is we don’t understand His holiness. If we did, we would be more attentive to the fact that every breath we take is because of His mercy.
To illustrate, Sproul mentions a story in the Bible (Luke 13: 1-5) where some people ask Jesus that same question. A pillar of a building fell down, crushing some innocent bystanders.
Jesus preached about God’s love and kindness to us. He was so loving himself, and so connected with God even to the people who weren’t sure that he was God, that people wondered why OT God didn’t seem to be as patient and loving as Jesus.
But Jesus’ answer was not what they expected. It wasn’t some mushy bogus about how God didn’t intend for bad things to happen. About how God cries with us and holds us when we are sad and see awful things. It wasn’t some comfort message about how those people were in heaven, spending eternity with their loving Father. Jesus didn’t say that those people didn’t deserve their fate, it was just a result of the fact that they lived in a fallen world.
Jesus said, “Listen, Jews. You better get over your simplistic, uni-fasceted view of God and wake up and smell the holiness. Do you really think those people were innocent? No way! They were just as guilty as you sinners standing right in front of me. So you better start repenting and keep at it because that could happen to you any second, just as easily.”
We have experienced so much mercy and grace that when God acts justly (and He is a just God. It’s in the Bible over and over.) we are surprised by it.
So here I am, learning this, pondering it, talking to my brothers about how life is a responsibility… and I feel like I’m experiencing a small bit of what Peter experienced when he encountered God’s holiness. (“Get away from me Lord, for I am too sinful to be with you!”)
Because I have God in my life, I have been so incredibly blessed my whole life, but I have just recently started to notice it for all it’s worth. I have an amazing job this summer, and didn’t do anything to deserve it. I have wonderful relationships with friends, and love in my life that I never thought I’d experience. I have books. Tons of books. And prayers. People ask me to pray for them, and I’m thankful for that because it means I have people who trust me. People who want me to pray for them. People in my life! God pours out gifts richly. I’ve wrestled with God, and I am at peace with him.
But what am I doing?!?
Sometimes I feel like I can be really hard on people and really hard on myself, but so is God. So is Jesus. So is Paul.
Good teachers are hard on people. This is why I feel like I was born to be a hypocrite – because I’ve been given so many gifts and opportunities and tools in life, so I believe that I have a responsibility to use each and every one of those blessings for God’s glory.
I’m doing the hypocrite thing right now. I have this desire to share with people what I’m learning, to speak truth into their lives, and I’m not living my life as well as I should myself. I don’t know if that’s possible, but I need to start bettering myself, or a pillar will fall on me and I won’t be ready to tell God about what I’ve done with this big, huge responsibility/life that He gave me!
Here I am, in awe of His holiness and wanting Him to leave my presence because I feel like crap next to Him. Yes, sometimes we need God for comfort, and He is always there for that. God is always love, but God is never just love. He is also always just. Always holy. And unless I live in fear of that, in fear of being a hypocrite, I will never ever find the motivation to do the work He wants me to do. I will start at the whistle and pathetically drag my feet and never finish the race set out before me. It will be embarrassing. It will be a waste. God will still love me, but when I get to heaven I don’t want to hear, “Well, you made it.” I want to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”