Sham. Shyster. Charlatan. Phony. Masquerader. All synonyms for hypocrite.
Growing up this word was usually hissed rather than stated. “She’s nothing but a hypocrite.” I learned at a young age that it was not a compliment. I tried hard not to become one, but I’m certain that at times I have been.
My husband and I were both given bibles when he became an ordained minister in 2003. They both have been used about the same amount of time through the years. However, mine is most definitely more worn looking. The edges are bent and frayed and parts of the leather have broken or fallen off. Why the difference? My bible cover is made from bonded leather and his is made of genuine leather.
Bonded leather is “real” leather, but it’s made from pieces that are glued (hence, “bonded”) together with adhesives, polyurethane, or other bonding materials. Once bonded, the leather can be cut, dyed, and embossed to look like genuine leather. Because it’s not made from a single sheet of leather, it’s often not as durable. In other words, it’s a fake. A worthless imitation passed off as genuine. Much like a hypocrite.
Hypocrite: a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs
I don’t talk much about being a pastor’s wife, mainly because I’m not your ‘typical’ one. I don’t play the piano or stand by my husband’s side every minute. I’m not the type that teaches every class, leads every group and does everything in the church. I love being Bryan’s wife, but, at times, I don’t like being the pastor’s wife. There is a lot of room to become a hypocrite.
Sometimes I find myself not sharing things about myself that maybe as a member I would, too afraid that it might not look right, or I might cause someone else to fall.
Last Sunday I felt like a phony. I wanted to go pray, but I didn’t want people talking. I wanted people to know that my mental struggles are just as real as their physical ones, but I didn’t want people judging. So, I stayed in my seat and I prayed by myself.
And I cried and prayed alone. Then after service is over, I pull on the mask with the happy face (even though my mask is broken and you can still see the sadness). I have become the very thing most people despise about churches: hypocrites.
No one likes a fake. Sometimes, however, we don’t like the real thing either. Real Christians are NOT angelic beings that fly over their problems and never are tempted to sin. Real Christians are NOT free from stresses, worries, grief, failures or trials.
Real Christians are messy. They mess up and miss it a lot of the time. The difference between the fake and the real is believing and living in grace. I’ve been brought back to grace, thankfully, many times.
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12: 9 NKJV
One of my favorite books is The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend. Here’s an excerpt from page 25 that I can identify with:
When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.
To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side, I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, ‘A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.’
The gospel of grace nullifies our adulation of televangelists, charismatic superstars, and local church heroes. …My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.
So, I, like Brennan Manning and so many others, are messy. Perfect messes, as author Lisa Harper likes to say. I am trying to be a REAL perfect mess because My Father already knows that I am…and loves me just the same. Just like the REAL genuine leather on Bryan’s bible, the REAL perfect messes will be able to withstand the wear and tear of life.
For the high priest we have is not incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us, but has been put to the test in exactly the same way as ourselves, apart from sin. Let us, then, have no fear in approaching the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace when we are in need of help. – Hebrews 4:15-16