Sunday, 21 August 2016

Hypocrites - One and all

In today's world of political correctness we have a tendency for all of us to be hypocrites and thus we have rendered the term pretty well in operative and of no consequence.  In Luke's gospel Christ points out the hypocrisy of the leaders of the synagogue in their complaints about healing someone who was bound (Lk. 13.10-17).  This is a clear cut situation of the term hypocrisy or the pretense of one attitude by upholding another. The terms comes from the Greek term used for acting a theatrical part, in other words pretending to be what you are not like a character on the stage.  This derives from hupo krinein or under decide / judge, in other words you are actually not sure of your position and cannot judge it or decide properly.

We display these characteristics in many ways in today's world and in some circumstances are almost forced into this hypocritical position as a result of our underlying need for political appeasement of all racial / religious / minority groups.  In our search for a just treatment of all groups we tend to come across as hypocritical in some other area or in relationship with some other group.  This can be clearly seen in the passage from Luke's gospel.  The community leaders in the synagogue were absolutely focused on the law and the way it should be upheld.  They saw the actions of Christ as being work and that work is forbidden on a Sabbath.  No issues here.  They immediately started to raise the issue in terms of the requirements of the faith.  In doing so of course they neglected the fact that there is a greater law within the tenets of faith and that is love of neighbour.  Christ points out in the most ludicrous fashion that they do good to their neighbours and fellow inhabitants of the planet by releasing them from their stalls in a similar way he has done for the woman.

The issue is not that they were 'bad' people but that their focus was wrong as they looked at the minutiae of the issue and not at the whole.  The same can be said of the crowd of people in Jerusalem at the moment of the condemnation of Christ.  The majority of whom would have belonged to the Jewish faith and would have been devout, otherwise they would not have been there.  In condemning the innocent and condoning the actions of the corrupt they were setting a double standard as they took a hypocritic stance in terms of their faith.  We do this every single day of our lives and in doing so we continue to condemn Christ to the cross.  We do this as individuals and as faith groups and as a nation or as nations each and every day.  Quite often this is the reason why many do not find mainstream faith communities as relevant for themselves or for society as a whole.

What mask do we present as a faith group? 

To give some hard examples of this that are visible on a daily, if not weekly, basis.  Politics, as the crucifixion demonstrates, is filled with people who take hypocritical stances.  In modern times perhaps the best illustration of this is the Australian government's stance on immigration which is really only a continuation of an ongoing viewpoint that stretches back to the 1960's if not further.  The condoning of 'concentration' camps and the abuse of young people, with a pass the buck attitude, for those who do not enter Australia the way the majority enter whilst being a signatory to various treaties on Human rights. This is an accepted form of hypocrisy in the world of politics, others are condemn while our own abuses are ignored.

All faith communities have inherited credal statements from the beginning of their respective faiths.  I wonder how much credence can be put into these statements in the light of modern academic and secular thought.  In some cases it could be fair to say that many would be turned away from different faiths by their adherence to out dated language and thought.  This holds for all faiths not just Christianity as all faiths that have credal statements accept them as being faith statements.  However, the question to ask is whose faith, mine or someone two thousand years ago, as many would have been formulated in an era very different to the modern one.  It would appear to be incumbent on faith believers to constantly challenge what is stated so that we do not become hypocritical in our beliefs.

On a personal level it is incumbent upon ourselves to ensure that what we promote is not a hypocritical stance.  We can sometimes become so tied up with the perceived injustices of historical and current situations that we neglect our neighbours and cause them hurt.  Christ cam into the world proclaiming a love of all our neighbours not just the select few where we perceive a miscarriage of justice in the past.  It matters little if we promote greater love for Aboriginal peoples, Black Africans, Jews when we spurn Muslims, other Christians and those within our own families.  Just like the leaders in the synagogue we become so tied up with the small events and indiscretions that we miss the larger more important requirement to respect 'all' people irrespective of who they are.

All injustices need to be highlighted and condemned, just as we condemn those that cried out for Christ's crucifixion, however in doing so we must take care that we do not become one with the crowd, as our condemnation begins to create a greater divide.  This is a fine line that cuts both ways but as Christians we are called to tread this line with care and love.

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