"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you… This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
(Matt 6:5-6, 9-13 NIV)
Dear Cambridge Family & Friends,
I have a confession that may or may not surprise you. I thoroughly enjoy watching the annual presentation of the Academy Awards known to most folks at ‘The Oscars.’ This is one of the few television shows that Deb (who seldom watches TV) and I (who watch mostly sports) actually enjoy together. Like most folks, my primary interest is in the ‘big’ awards i.e. Best Actor and Actress in a Leading Role, and Best Picture, but I also like what I call the ‘just under’ categories i.e. Best Supporting Actor and Actress. I was really hoping Sylvester ‘Rocky Balboa’ Stallone was going to win Best Supporting Actor for his latest Rocky movie (number 173 I believe ☺).
If you think about it, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who determine the Oscar winners are essentially giving out awards to folks who are pretending to be something they’re not. (Not to pick on my man ‘Sly’ Stallone, but in real life, I think most would agree this 5 ft. 9 inch muscle bound thespian wouldn’t have a shot at being the Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World.)
Long before the Oscars, Jesus publicly recognized several actors, but not in a good way. During our Savior’s day, public plays and performances were all the rage, especially for the entertainment of the upper class. The Greek word for these actors on a theater stage was hypocrites. These ‘hypocrites’ wore masks in order to convey a part or emotion, thus hiding the ‘real’ person behind the masks. Jesus likened the behavior of the religious leaders’ false portrayal of piousness to that of actors pretending to be something they were not.
Today, sadly, this word hypocrite has evolved to the point that many non-believers use it to describe Christians, especially believers who attend church regularly. It’s an unfair portrayal, based on the actions of some, that blankets all of us who attempt to example Christ’s love, but who regularly sin and fall short in our efforts to be Christ-like. It’s also a poor excuse for many who just don’t want to worship someone other (and greater) than themselves.
Our ‘role’ as Christians is actually to play several parts. We are to be that good neighbor, that caring co-worker, that considerate customer, and that faithful church servant, who invites our neighbors, co-workers and even waitress to church. We are not to put on the ‘church face’ during worship only to reveal that jerk face, dishonest face, sports-obsessed face, “It’s-all-about-me” face or any other face that dishonors the face of Christ when at home and/or about in public.
When we get that rare opportunity, we are to remove our masks and reveal to the world that we are as imperfect and flawed as anyone else and share that the reason we go to church is to come before the Cross of Jesus and join other imperfect and flawed people to celebrate and worship a God Who loved us so much He gave His Son to save us from eternity without Him. As we prepare for the Easter season, I want to encourage you to take this time to play your part when it comes to bringing someone closer to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Perhaps the first act is inviting them to join you in worship.
In Him alone,
Cambridge Baptist Church