By Joshua Franks
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Bruceton
I was shopping in Walmart a few days ago and I struck up a conversation with an acquaintance. Our talk started cordially enough but I soon asked why I never saw him on Sundays. His demeanor changed quickly and he replied, “You’ll never see me in church. There’s too many hypocrites!” Having been in ministry long enough to have heard that excuse multiple times, I replied with my standard answer, “Don’t worry about that. One more won’t hurt anything.”
It’s a funny conversation but I believe if I were to take an informal poll “hypocrites” would be the number one excuse most people claim as to why they don’t attend church. No one wants to be around people who pretend to be something they’re not. But is there any merit to that claim?
Unfortunately, there is. Our pews are filled with people who profess one thing with their lips but live out an entirely different set of beliefs on a daily basis. This gives Jesus a black eye and causes unbelievers to stumble.
However, Scripture is plain. As believers, we are to submit to God’s authority in our lives all the time. We don’t submit only when it’s convenient for us to do. It is a continual process where we take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). And we do this for two reasons.
First, we submit for the sake of the lost (I Peter 2:11-12). Unsaved people are always watching us, looking for an excuse to speak against the Lord, and looking for a reason to reject the love of Christ. This alone should be enough to motivate us to take up our cross.
However, we also submit for the sake of the Lord (vv. 13-17). We don’t often think of it in these terms, but that is exactly what Peter says in verse 13, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake.”
Believers are Christ’s representatives on earth. Everything we say and do should be for His glory, even if that means submitting to government representatives that we disagree with. Paul makes this plain as he writes in Romans 13:1, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
Therefore, I would encourage all believers to remember who you are. You are God’s “beloved” (I Peter 2:11). We are in a love relationship with Christ and refusing to submit to His authority demonstrates disdain for His person.
Remain in control of your flesh. Peter says to “abstain from the passions of the flesh.” The human heart is desperately wicked and desires unrighteousness. Left unchecked it will lead you down the path of destruction. So, be intentional. Don’t wander through life aimlessly (I Corinthians 9:26). Discipline your self to desire the things of the Lord.
And recognize that you’re just passing through. Always remember that we are sojourners in this land. This is not our home. This is not our final destination. There is a much greater city that awaits.
The heroes of the faith in Hebrews chapter 11 recognized that. They acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on earth (Hebrews 11:13) and desired a better country (v. 16). Therefore, God was not ashamed to be called their God. … In other words, don’t be a hypocrite. Submit to God and He will be proud of you.