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The Problem of... Hypocrisy

Read this message transcript from the "The Problem of..." message series

Matt Sturdevant: This morning we're going to start a brand new series called The Problem Of. We're just five weeks away from Easter. Easter Sunday's coming up on April 21st, and as we prepare for the hundreds of invitations that will be made to friends, family, neighbors and coworkers—people to join us on Easter so that they can hear the message of the gospel—we, as your pastors here at Hope, we want to help equip you and encourage you and prepare you so that you can help make those invitations and that you can more effectively reach out to the people that you would like to reach out to.

Sometimes as we are reaching out to folks, there's questions that come up. There's issues, or there's objections. And sometimes we're not sure exactly what to do with that, so that's why we've put this series together. We want to be a help to you as you're reaching out and inviting folks. Oftentimes when we hear the word problem, we think about an unwanted circumstance that we're in. Like I woke up this morning ... This didn't really happen, but this is an example. I woke up this morning; I walk out to my car, and I’ve got a flat tire. Oh no, I have a problem now, right? I'm probably going to be late to wherever I'm going, and I’ve got to fix this thing. Or maybe you just ... You've totally messed up a relationship that you have with someone, and now you have a problem in your relationship.

But that's one sense of the word problem. But the other side of it is more like when we think about in school, and we think about a math problem that we have to solve. So, another definition of a problem is “a question raised for inquiry, consideration, or solution.” It's “an intricate, unsettled question.” I'm going to move this back, so we don't have a problem in a minute when I walk around and wind up in the front row.

That's what we mean by this series with the problem. As we consider God and Jesus and the Bible and sharing this message with others, how can we address some of the problems that people see? Those of us who are Christ-followers, we would see Jesus as the solution, as the answer, but a lot of times, people may see Him and some of these issues we're going to look at as problems. So how do we effectively address this as we reach out to others? So over the next several weeks, we're going to take a look at these problems up here, and I want you to see the date because maybe this is a particular problem that you're wrestling with. How do I deal with this in my own life? Or, I know someone that this is a big issue, and I want to make sure to invite them to join me on this day.

The Problem of Hypocrisy—we're going to deal with that one today in just a moment. The apparent inconsistencies of what I think a Christian is and should be and then what I've observed in the lives of people who are Christians. Exclusivity—Is Jesus really the only Way? How do you address that? The Problem of Hell, The Problem of Evil and Suffering, and The Myth of Christ—Some people say that, "Oh, Jesus wasn't real; He was just a myth." And this is the series. This is the direction we're going to be moving as we get ready for Easter.

So today we're going to launch this series. We're going to talk about this problem of hypocrisy. And maybe this is a question you have. Maybe you're wondering, “How do I deal with this?” You might be joining us today, and you're not yet a follower of Jesus. You're here at an invitation, or you're just curious. And this may be a question that you have. And a couple of years ago, a pastor named Mark Clark, he wrote a book called The Problem of God: Answering a Skeptic's Challenge to Christianity. In this book, Mark addresses 10 problems. And so the way we're handling this series is we've used 10 of the ... or excuse me, five of the problems from his book as sort of the launching point for our discussion, sort of the big picture outline of the conversation that we're going to be having over the next several weeks.

A number of years ago, the Barna Group did a survey where they surveyed people who identify as not-Christians, those who are not following Jesus, and they asked them what are the big objections that people have as to why they reject Christianity. So they surveyed these people, and the number three answer that came up of why people reject Christianity... 85% of those that responded said it's the problem of hypocrisy... it’s that Christians are hypocrites. They identify that as a major problem.

Obviously this is a huge topic, and each one of us comes here today with sort of our own experiences that we've had, that we've observed the behavior of people, and just experiences that we've had. So I'm going to attempt to navigate this number three objection by not violating too bad the number two objection, which is that Christians are too judgmental. You know, one of the things that we need to have, we need to have a level of discretion, a level of discrimination as we think about ideas. But discrimination has become a dirty word in our culture, and we're too judgmental. So I want to try to address this topic and look at hypocrisy without being too judgmental, as we look through some things here.

But as I've thought about it, as I've looked at this issue, I think that there are really two big issues, and then a root that's connected to both of them. One of these issues is sort of this issue that's out here. Some people have the issue that's out here, and this is a problem for them when they think about hypocrisy. But probably most of us live with this issue that's much closer to right here. And they're both ... they have the same root. So anybody ... have you ever seen those trees that basically like at the base or just a couple of feet up, they sort of fork and split off into a Y? You've got a tree with a common root system, and then the tree comes up and goes in two different directions.

I think with hypocrisy, there's two different branches of the tree, but they've got the same root that we're going to look at. And this morning I'm going to spend a few minutes with the problem out here and spend the majority of our time with the problem right here that I think most of us are confronted with, and then look at the root of both of those problems. You've got a listening guide there in your program if you want to follow along.

So the first problem, the one that's sort of out here is “What do I do with the horrible things found in Christians' history? What do I do with these things?” And for some that is the issue—I could never be a Christian because of the things that happened out there in the past, the things that Christians or the church were responsible for. Some of these things include things like the Crusades, the Inquisition, the witch trials in Europe, and then later here in the States. What do we do with those arguments? If you're trying to share Christ with someone and just talk about what He’s done in your own life, and they bring up this objection about this thing that happened hundreds or thousands of years ago, what do you do with that? How do you handle it?

That's what we want to look at today, and I've got a few thoughts and a few suggestions for you on how to handle this thing that's out here that sometimes is a big objection and a problem for people. And so the first one is just admit that some things happened. Admit it. Some things happened in the past that we're not proud of, that God probably didn't condone that. He didn't want to see that happen. So admit that some things happened, but you know what? You and I and who we might be having those conversations with, we weren't there to actually see it and observe it. We only read about it through the lens of history. So, we want to admit that some horrible things did happen. But then the next thing we want to do is we want to try to understand the context and get the facts straight, because possibly what we've read or what we've always heard or what we learned in school, there may be more to the story than that.

In fact, I'm sure none of you have ever had this experience, but I have done way more reading and studying since I've been out of school than I ever did in school. I hated to read. I didn't really appreciate history as much as I do now. So, I've read things about history, like whole books that are on just certain topics, things that we maybe spent a sentence or a paragraph or maybe a page on in our history class. But there's a whole lot more to the story. In fact, a lot of times, the way that history portrays Christians is they leave out the really good and noble things that happen, and we only hear about the bad things.

For instance, if I say David, probably the two things that came to your mind were either Goliath or Bathsheba, right?—sort of his greatest success or his greatest failure. And there's a lot more to his life that went on than just Goliath and just Bathsheba. In fact, you really need to understand the story of his life to understand why he was considered a man after God's own heart. And don't judge his life just based on the failure or the success. He's a greater man than his greatest failure or his greatest success.

So when it comes to these horrible things that happened out in Christian history, we want to admit it. And then we want to try to understand the context. We want to try to understand the facts. So very quickly, we're not going to spend very much time on this at all. Very quickly, I want to make a few comments about one of the major objections that comes up, and that is the Crusades.

The Crusades were a series of religious wars fought between Christians and Muslims. They happened between about 1095 to 1291. It was over control of the Holy Land. And in fact, it happened years after the Muslims captured Jerusalem in 1076. War is a horrible, awful thing. And all kinds of lives are lost anytime war happens, and innocent lives are lost in the context of war. Even today, the best we do when we have these super laser-guided missiles that can come down from space and just blow up a building and touch nothing around it. You do everything you can to minimize the damage. But war is awful, and it's horrible, and sometimes, things happen.

But a lot of people will say, and you'll read in the history books, that the Christians slaughtered tens of thousands of innocent Muslims. And again, you and I were not there to witness it and to see is everyone who died—were they innocent or were they a combatant? But one of the realities that we don't hear about too much is that much of the Crusades were actually a defensive war. They were a war fought to protect and defend from the invaders, and it was a war fought to reclaim some of the land that was lost. It wasn't a war that they were going to spread Christianity by the sword, but it was defensive, and it was protective. Now, in the context of war, do some bad people do some bad things? Absolutely, but that's not what they were all about.

In fact, another thing to understand—the context of this time is...this was happening in a time period where there was this large cultural Christianity movement in Europe. It dates all the way back to the fourth century when the Emperor Constantine of Rome, he became a Christian, and therefore, declared Rome a Christian empire. Now, I don't think that when he made that declaration, that every Roman citizen and every person living in the entire Roman empire at that moment bent the knee and became a true, genuine follower of Jesus Christ. But this blanket was put out that it was this Christian empire, and then Rome sort of went on doing what Rome was doing, as they were expanding and taking over the world. So, there's this cultural aspect that we often find.

Another thing, today is St Patrick's Day. Okay? So, in honor of Saint Patrick's Day, there's ... More recent times, there's a conflict in Northern Ireland between the Protestants and the Catholics, and they're not arguing and fighting over theological and doctrinal issues. They're fighting over political issues. And there happens to be a group of Protestants and a group of Catholics who are fighting against each other. It's not about religion. So, we want to understand that a lot of what gets labeled as religious war is actually a geopolitical war happening where there are people who are of a religion, and they're not fighting to expand that religion.

In the book I mentioned, Mark, the author of it, he's talking about a lot of times, the statistics that we hear in history are a little bit off. I'm going to throw out some statistics that he uses. If you disagree with these, you're welcome to do some research. But a lot of times, we hear that millions and millions of people were killed by the Christians. Through the research that he did and others, in about a 500-year period, it looks like when you really get clear about the facts, it looks like there were about 250,000 people that were killed by quote “Christians” during this time period.

But if you take a step back, and those 250,000 people that were killed in the context of war, I mean, that's horrible to have 250,000 people die. That's a horrible thing that happened. But if you take a step back and you look at people who are saying that Christianity and religion is the problem, people who are of an atheistic world view, in just a 100 year period, they've actually killed over a hundred million people. So you have 500 years, 250,000; a hundred years, over 100 million people. This is people like Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. In fact, even Mao himself in China, he exterminated between 50 and 70 million of his own people. So those who want to say that religion is the problem, look at what non-religion does, right? When you deal with this issue, admit that, yes, there were some bad things, some horrible things that happened in the past, and then try to get the context and the facts straight as you look at this.

But again, this is the issue that's out here. I've actually never run into someone who has said, "Well, I could never become a Christian because of something that happened in 1150 during the Crusades." The issue that's right up here that we're confronted with on a daily basis is what about Christians I've known personally? Right? Christians that I've known personally...Some people would say, "I don't have a problem with God. I don't have a problem with Jesus. It's other Christians that I have a problem with—people that I know, people that I've observed their behavior. I've seen how they live. If that's what a Christian is, I don't want to be one." In fact, maybe somebody, they've got a neighbor, and they're like, "My neighbor's a Christian, and he's a jerk, so I don't want to be like that. I don't want to be a Christian."

So, this issue that we deal with is right up here. In the New Testament, Christians, followers of Jesus, we're called to be witnesses to the world. We're called to be ambassadors to the world. If what the world is witnessing is causing them to say, "No, I don't want to do that," well, then we need to take a step back, and we need to say, "What's happening? Let's try to understand this a little bit better." One question is, “Well, what does it mean to be a Christian? What actually is a Christian?”

Sometimes, people misunderstand what a Christian is, and they think, "Oh, well, Christianity is about taking bad people and turning them into good people. And you're going to give them a set of rules and a set of regulations and a formula. And if you do this, you take bad people, you turn them into good people." They think that's what Christianity is all about.

I want to look at what the Apostle Paul, a church starter in the first century, I want to look at what he said about what it is to be a Christian, and we're going to look at this. This is Ephesians 2:8 through 10 in the Amplified Bible, and in a moment when the verse comes up, you're going to see a bunch of brackets and different things. The Amplified Bible, it really gets at sort of the meaning, what's really going on in the context of this. So I want to read through this for a moment here. We'll start with verse eight. "For it is by free grace, God's unmerited favor, that you were saved, delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation through your faith. And this salvation is not of yourselves, of your own doing. It came not through your own striving, but it is a gift of God, not because of works, not the fulfillment of the law’s demands, lest any man should boast. It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do. So, no one can pride himself in or take glory to himself. For we are God's own handiwork, his workmanship, recreated in Christ Jesus, born anew that we may do those good works in which God predestined, planned beforehand for us, taking paths which he prepared ahead of time that we should walk in them living the good life, which he pre-arranged and made ready for us to live."

It’s a lot of words. Amplification, right? Really gets at the meeting, but here's what it says. It's basically saying that a Christian is someone who is saved by God's grace. Nothing that they did ... They're not a good person. Nothing that they did is what saved them. It's only what Christ has done. So basically, what this verse is saying and what the truth and the reality is, is that Christians are sinners.

We're all sinners, but ... And thank God that there's a but. The but is that we were made right with God through Jesus Christ. It's nothing about ourselves. We're not good enough to make our way back to God. It's only through Jesus that we're able to make our way back to them. We put our faith in Jesus, we put our trust in Jesus, and then we turn around. We say, "Jesus, I want You to be the Boss of my life, which means I take my agenda, and I set it aside." That's what being a Christian is all about.

Now this is becoming less and less of an issue today as our culture is kind of moving in the direction that it is, but we have enjoyed in America a bit of cultural Christianity for a number of decades similar to what was being experienced in Rome during the fourth century and time after that. Because I'm an American, I'm a Christian. And that's just not the case. A Christian is someone who is a follower of Jesus Christ. In fact, you know, in this room here, I know we have some that are followers of Jesus. You've been walking with Jesus for a long time. We also have some guests here today that you might self-identify and say, "You know what? I'm not a Christian. I know I'm not a Christian. I'm here at an invitation. I'm curious. I'm checking things out." But simply because someone driving by on Beach Street saw you drive in the parking lot and walk in the building, they might assume you're a Christian, because you walked in here.

And if that's you, you're most welcome. Because our mission, what we're all about, is to invite people to discover and experience God's ways. That's what we want to do as a church and in my experience, as I look at sort of this issue, there's sort of three broad categories of people, three categories you can put people in. And that the experience that the world out there has with the first two is often what causes them to come up with the label of hypocrite, because what they see and what they think doesn't match up.

In fact, what is a hypocrite? Well, hypocrite, the word's got Greek origin, and it means “to pretend.” It's like a play actor. So a hypocrite in ancient Greece puts on the mask. They pretend to be someone else. You take that mask off; you put it on. So when we see someone and we say, "Oh, they're a hypocrite," it's because they're doing one thing, but they're saying another, and it doesn't match up. So, that's what we think when we say hypocrite. So, a Christian. And that's what I don't like, and we often don't use the term Christian, we'll say a follower of Jesus. But a follower of Jesus, a true follower of Jesus, is someone who's in the process of becoming Christ-like. They're not Christ-like. They're in the process of becoming Christ-like. And people are at all different places in that process.

We all start somewhere. We start with a decision. It's more like a journey rather than just a destination that we arrive at. We start this journey with the decision to put our hope and our faith and our trust in Jesus. And then we begin this journey, and this journey is not complete until we're in heaven with Christ for eternity. There's lots of change, and there's transformation that can take place. But we're never going to be perfect on this side of eternity. And I want to show you a diagram that kind of helps illustrate this.

So, this process of spiritual growth is that you start with the natural man. You're not a follower of Jesus; you're completely natural. And because of the fall, because of the sin that Adam and Eve committed, sin entered this world, and everyone is a sinner; therefore, everyone sins. So you start out this natural man, and then you become a spiritual baby. When you begin that process and you say, "I'm going to say yes to Jesus," then you become this spiritual baby. It's like a little seed that's there, and you can see most of the natural man is still there because it's a spiritual baby; and then you become a child. You grow, and the natural man is shrinking. But the natural man is still there. And even to the point when you get to the mature man, there's always going to be that little edge of the natural man that's there. We can never get rid of that on this side of eternity. It's only when we die, when we spend eternity with Jesus, that we will be sinless; we will be perfect like Him.

But being a follower of Christ is about the process of change and growth that takes place. The moment that we become a follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit takes residence in us, and he is the one that helps us grow and change over time. That's why the natural man shrinks, and we become more and more like Christ. So as we think about this, here's the three broad categories. You could put them there in your handout. The first one is immature. It's someone who has genuinely begun the journey and become a follower of Jesus. They're just immature. They're like that little baby. In fact, there's a part in 1 Corinthians where 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, Paul is telling members of this church, it's basically like, "I can't treat you like spiritual people because you're infants. You're children; you're not ready. I’ve got to keep giving you the milk because you're not ready for the meat." You're still like the natural man. He's referring to this. That little seed has grown and has been burst, but they're mostly like the natural man.

In fact, in the book that I mentioned, Mark, he tells this story. Their church was in a process of growth, and they were running out of building space, running out of parking, and they were moving into the neighborhoods nearby to park. And they get a call from a homeowner that says, "Somebody from your church parked on my lawn. And when I went out to confront them, they gave me the finger, and they said, 'Screw you, I'm late for church.'" You know, I don't know if the guy that said that was not yet a follower of Jesus, but he was going to church, and he was in the pre-process. Or if he was a follower of Jesus, obviously he was an immature believer. Right? All he knew was, "I got to get to church on time, and I'm late. I don't care where I parked." He wasn't thinking about the words that he was using.

Unfortunately, the world around us, and even sometimes us as followers of Christ, we don't give the same level of grace to the immature Christian that we do to the physically immature and the babies. Right? I was in the airport in Atlanta, and there was this probably about a two year-old sitting very close to me, closer than I would have liked at the time, screaming and hollering. This little dude was just not happy, but I knew he was probably about a two year-old. And then, as I'm hearing the adults that he's with talking, I mean, I don't know where these people were coming from, or where they were trying to go to, but it sounded like they had just had about 10 to 15 hours of travel. And they were just trying to catch a flight to get somewhere. So, this little guy's probably not had a real nap or real sleep, and he's just doing what babies do. Right? So we gave him this ... So I then gave him some grace, and I'm like, okay, you know, he's doing what he does because he's a physical baby. But we don't see that and give that same grace sometimes to the spiritual babies.

In fact, and unfortunately, often there's a politician or a sports figure or an entertainer who really is a genuine follower of Christ. They have that seed of the new life in them. They just happen to be very immature and have a platform, and then they get asked the “gotcha question” that you don't even really know if Billy Graham could adequately answer that question. But they've just asked this celebrity that question, and then we hear their answer, and we get mad, and we say, "Oh, they're a hypocrite, and all Christians are hypocrite." Sometimes we're dealing with the immature. They are followers of Jesus. They're just immature. They don't know what it's like.

And then even the world around us, they can have this definition that's not rooted in reality of what is a Christian? Well, a Christian is somebody who glows white. They float three inches off the floor, and they're practically perfect in every way. No, that's not what a Christian is. Because remember, Christians are sinners only saved by God's grace. So, first category is an immature person. The next category is the pretender. The next one is the pretender. The world around us sees someone, and they think because they can talk the talk or they attend church or whatever it is, oh, that's a Christian, and they're a hypocrite. But they're actually a pretender, they’re not really a follower of Jesus.

And I think the pretenders fall into sort of two categories. One are those that are intentionally pretending. They know they're not following Jesus, and they're doing it for some type of advancement or gain on their own. And Jesus has some scathing rebukes for people like that in the New Testament. So there are those that are intentionally doing it, and they know it. But then there's also people who, they don't know that they're pretending. Because do you realize it's possible to grow up in church? It's possible to attend church for years. It's possible to give financially. It's possible to serve, but having actually never made the decision to make Jesus your Savior and then to make Him your Boss and to switch your agenda. You're sort of going through the motions; you're doing some of the right things, but if you never actually make the decision, you're unintentionally pretending.  And you don't have the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one inside that helps that circle grow over time, and if you don't actually have Him, you don't actually grow. So there are those who pretend intentionally or unintentionally.

In fact, you know, again, going back to Rome, do you think that when Constantine says, "We're a Christian empire now,"—do you think that there were some people that decided, "Hey, I'm a Christian," because it's going to advance their political career? It's going to advance their gains. They had no intention to let the Holy Spirit transform their lives. They had no intention to follow Jesus. They were pretending.

Then the third category, and I wish this was the one that the spotlight was on by the media, and that is the obedient but not perfect. The spotlight somehow is on the immature or the pretenders and rarely on the obedient, but even those who are obedient are not perfect. Because being a Christian is not about perfection, it’s about following Jesus. In John 14:21, Jesus says, "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me." Being a follower of Christ is not about the warm, fuzzy feeling of, "I love you, Jesus." It's about obeying His commands. It's about following Him, and He said ... John 13:34 and 35, He talks about that “by this...” He’s talking about love. “ will know that you are my disciples.” So there's an obvious difference. They're obedient, but yet they're not perfect.

So, here are some key questions to ask as you're interacting with people and you're like, "I think they're a Christian. I don't know if they’re a Christian, or whatever it is." As you're interacting with the Christians that I have known, those that are up close, here's three questions you can ask. One is, “Where are they? Where are they today? What does their life look like today?” But you can't stop there. If you ask where someone is today, then you might see an immature person. You might see a pretender, or you might see someone who's obedient. So where are they today? But then the next question is, “Where were they? Where did they come from?” Then you take it a little bit further, and you say, “What direction are they heading in?” It's not just about where you are today. It's not just about where you were. It's about the direction that you're heading in.

I sort of laughed out loud when I read this story in the book that the author is telling about his own spiritual journey. He grew up in an atheistic home and became a Christian, had lots of questions. And before he was a Christian, he got into some drugs and, you know, the lifestyle that people wouldn't think or expect of someone who would later become a pastor. And he's attending church, and someone makes a comment to his girlfriend at the time. They later get married, and it is, "I don't think you should, you should be dating Mark, because I don't think he's really a Christian." "Well, why?" "Well, because I saw him smoking." And I love her question back to them: "Well, what was he smoking?" And they said, "Well, a pack of cigarettes." And she says, "Praise God, because you don't know what Mark used to smoke." And now he doesn't smoke at all.

So he was on this journey of at that moment; he was smoking cigarettes. He used to smoke dope, and he was moving in the direction of Jesus; and he's not smoking anything today. So, those are three helpful questions as you look at this journey and this process. I said that the two issues out there, hypocrisy of what happened in history, and then the close-up Christians I've known, they come down to the same root. And that same root is sin. It's sin. That's the root of these problems. We looked at that, the process of spiritual growth. We start out as the natural man because we're all sinners. That's how we start. We live in this broken world, and we are sinners. In fact, in Romans 3:10 through 12 it says, “As it is written, none is righteous. No, not one. No one understands. No one's seeks for God. All have turned aside together. They have become worthless. No one does good, not even one.”

That's where we start. And then God sent Jesus to this planet to stand in our place, to die the death that we should die. And if we put our faith and our trust in Jesus, if we admit that we're sinners and we become his followers, when God looks down at us, he sees Christ's perfection. He doesn't see us in our sin, but guess what? We’ve still got that edge of natural man around us, and it's really easy to get stuck along the way. You're going along; you're doing good; and then you get stuck, and you have to work at it. You have to make choices to do maybe some things you don't want to do sometimes to continue to grow and develop. Let the Holy Spirit change you, transform you.

And even if you've been at this a long time, it's easy to get stuck. Paul, who was persecuting Christians, he meets Jesus on the road to go persecute them. And then he becomes one of the greatest ambassadors and advocates for the gospel, and the gospel spreads throughout Europe because of his work. Paul says this about himself; so if you think Paul was spiritually mature, he says this in Romans 7:15. He says, "For I do not understand my own actions." Anybody ever felt like this? "For I do not do what I want, and I do the very thing I hate."

I would like to tell you that in 17 plus years of marriage, that I have never spoken an unkind word to my wife. But that's not true. You know that's not true because as much as I'm trying, as much as I'm trying to be obedient and to follow Jesus, I've still got some natural man, and I'm working to decrease that every day of my life. But that is still there. That's going to be a part of my life until I meet Jesus. And in fact, the standard for us as followers of Christ, our standard is actually Jesus. In Ephesians 4:13, before that, Paul was talking about how “He gave pastors and teachers to equip the saints,” he says, but until we all attain the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God to mature manhood to the measure and the stature of the fullness of Christ, that's what we're striving for. We're not striving to be perfect people here on this planet, because you're never going to find one. If you're looking for perfect Christians, I can just tell you guys, you're not going to find them here. None of these guys out here are perfect. I'm not perfect, but we are moving in a direction towards Jesus. And some days, we do it better. Some days, we don't do it so good. But that's the direction that we're heading in.

So, my encouragement and my challenge to you is, don't let someone else's mistakes at attempting to follow Jesus negatively influence you and the decision that you need to make to follow Jesus. And near the end of this chapter on hypocrisy, Mark says this great thing’re standing before God, and God's going to ask you this question about, "What did you do about the offer of salvation?" He's not going to ask you what someone else did. He's going to ask you what you did with this offer. So, I want to invite the band to come back out, and as I invite them to come out, I want to invite you to listen and to reflect.

Perhaps you're here today, you are a follower of Jesus, and while they're playing, just thank Him. Thank Him for what He’s done in your life, the change that has occurred, wherever you're at on that trajectory. If you just became a follower of Jesus and you got that little seed and you're mostly a natural man, thank Him for the change. If you're further along in maturity, you really know how you've changed. I would be embarrassed if you got to meet Matt 20 years ago. I'm glad you're meeting Matt today. I've come a long way. I've got a long way to go, but if you've never made a decision to follow Jesus, I want to invite you to do that today. Begin the journey. It doesn't end until we're with him, but begin that journey today.