Thursday, January 22, 2009

"Nothing But Hypocrits": A Response from the Prince of Preachers

I am sitting in my office preparing for Sunday mourning's sermon. This week, as we continue to march through the final week of Jesus' life and ministry, we will be looking at Jesus' command to Love God and Love Others as the greatest and foremost commandments. And as I always do, I read and study as much as I can on the text, on Jesus, on His words, it's meaning, all of the background, plus any applications I can.

And thus I came across one of my favorite pastors/preachers of all time, the Prince of Preachers Charles Spurgeon. In his sermon, he brought up the response of those who refused to go to church because it is made up of hypocrites. Spurgeon puts it:

But I hear one of these gentlemen reply, "Well, sir, I make no pretensions to religion, but still I believe I am quite as good as those that do; I am quite as upright, quite as moral and benevolent. True, I do not often darken the door of a church or chapel, I do not think it necessary, but I am a right good sort; there are many, many hypocrites in the church, and therefore I shall not think of being religious."

Sound familiar? I find this to be one of the most common excuses given by people who refuse to come to church. Spurgeon exhorts us to respond thus:

When your Maker speaks to you, he appeals to you personally; and if you should tell him, "My Lord, I will not love thee, because there are hypocrites," would not your own conscience convince you of the absurdity of your reasoning? Ought not your better judgment to whisper "Inasmuch, then, as so many are hypocrites, take heed that thou art not; and if there be so many pretenders who injure the Lord's cause by their lying pretensions, so much the more reason why thou shouldst have the real thing and help to make the church sound and honest."

I find this to be a profound response. I calls on everyone to be the solution rather than complain about the problem. The church is made up of hypocrites: redeemed hypocrites. Even though we have been wiped clean by our Savior, we continue to return to the pig slop of our sin. This should be a reminder of our responsibility to be obedient and perfect as Christ is perfect. Therefore, all of our bickering, complaining, and hypocritical lives must come to an end.

Perhaps we should conclude with Spurgeon:

...the great fault of our time is the fault of indifference; people do not care whether the thing is right or not. What is it to them? They never take the trouble to search between the different professors of religion to see where the truth dies; they do not think to pay their reverence to God with all their hearts. Oh, no; they forget what God demands, and so rob him of his due. To you, to you, great masses of the population, this law doth speak with iron tongue—"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.


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