If I’m being honest, I can’t always remember my own sermons from one week to the next. I do a lot of them; once one is finished, I’m on to the next. You may understand that I’m not very good at remembering other people’s sermons either. So when I can still recall a sermon from around a decade ago, it must have made an impact on me.
The sermon in question was at the ordination of a colleague. The preacher got up, turned to those about to become Rev’s and said “You are looking at a group of people who are about to become public hypocrites for the rest of their lives”. He then extended it to all the rest of the clergy present; rumour has it that the wife of one of the bishops was very put-out. I hope that isn’t true, because he was actually saying something really important, which applies to all who call themselves Christians, regardless of whether they wear a bit of plastic round their necks.
Jesus calls us to live our lives as he lived his; to love God and each other as God loves us. That is the love that carried Jesus to the cross; the bar is pretty high. In my life, by my words and action, I try to be true to that. I don’t actually get anywhere near it. So I am literally preaching what I cannot myself practice; I am a hypocrite.
I do this, in spite of my failings, because I am totally captivated by the message of Jesus and the vision of God that is found in the Bible. I get glimpses of life in it full abundance, I catch the shadows of the person I believe I am called to be and I see the Holy Spirit at work in the lives of those around me. Now I see darkly; one day I will see God’s love face to face. I know I will fall short, but for this vision, I am prepared to be a hypocrite. Perhaps there are worse things to be.