“How you DO your life is your real and final truth, not what ideas you believe.” -Richard Rohr
This sentence has been invading my thoughts since I read it a couple of weeks ago. I can’t shake it, and for good reason. It challenges everything I think and act on every minute of the day and sometimes hours in the middle of the night. What it clarifies for me is the blunt reality that what I say I believe is often very different from how I act. And I am not just referring to the times I say I believe in taking good care of my body and then proceed to eat approximately a half a bag of chips and salsa. Or how say I believe it’s imperative to start my day on spiritual footing, but hit the snooze so many times that I bolt awake in a frenzied rush just to make it to my first appointment, without even a flippant prayer or passing thought of God’s plan for my day. These may seem like silly examples. There are many bigger ways that I have not lived out what I believed.
But here’s a question that has been pestering me, or rather, pursuing me, lately: what about the tiny dark places that only God and I know about?
My life might look good on the outside to my readers and friends and most of the time to my family. But if I am honest, there are moments when I am not living what I say I believe. I am living out what I really believe and those two are often quite opposite. There is a strong word for this that is stinging and harsh, but nevertheless, accurate. Hypocrisy.
I think its fair to say that we hate hypocrisy. Many people have stumbled in their quest for God because of people who say they are God-followers but live in a way that is unkind, unloving, judgmental, arrogant. I don’t want anything to do with that category of “Christian.”
Hypocrisy means “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform.” Well, that pretty much sums up what Richard Rohr was saying: “How you do your life is your real and final truth, not what ideas you believe.” Paul says as much to the people in the church in Rome, a couple thousand years ago. He says, “you who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?” You get the gist. Most of us feel pretty safe to answer those questions with self-righteous confidence.
However, lately I have been asking myself questions like, “you who teach others not to worry, do you worry? You who say resentments will kill you, do you hold grudges? You who say you believe God will provide all your needs, do you feel jealous of what your friends have? You who say you trust God to direct your life, do you live in fear of the future? You who say God loves your kids more than you do, do you fret over their safety and life choices? You who say that living in God’s will is the best option for peace and serenity, do you work fervently to manipulate and control the people around you so that your will is done instead?”
The answers are embarrassing. According to Webster’s Dictionary, I am a hypocrite. That word makes me feel sick. And humbled. And repentant. I do not want to be a hypocrite.
In order to do that, I must must must live “as if” I actually believe what I say I believe. It’s one thing to have occasional temptations to worry. That’s normal. But if I live in worry, that is opposite of what I say I believe to be true about God and His ability and willingness to help me not worry. It’s normal to be tempted by all the questions I posed above, but to live in them and coddle them and make it a habit or lifestyle, is hypocrisy.
I have to pray, maybe a thousand times a day, prayers like
“God, I feel afraid; I am turning that fear over to you.”
“God, I feel worried about money; I am turning that worry over to you.”
“God, I feel unhappy in my circumstances; I am turning my discontent over to you.”
“God, I feel scared for my kids’ futures; I am turning them over to you.”
Now you try;
“God, I feel _____________; I am turning __________________ over to you.” AMEN