The Church Needs a Few More Hypocrites

A few weeks ago I officiated the marriage of my daughter, my firstborn and the first among my four kids to leap headlong into the holy fires of matrimony.

The ceremony went off without a hitch, and a number of folks seemed impressed that I could pull off my part without collapsing into a blubbery heap. But maintaining my composure really wasn’t all that hard. As a somewhat regular figure on the stage of our community theater, I knew that I didn’t actually have to be calm and collected; I only had to act like I was.

In this age of hyper-introspective Christianity, I find this principle quite refreshing. Rather than get sucked into a maddening vortex of religious self-examination, I’ve opted to take the Scriptures at face value, shrug off the temptation to judge myself, and simply practice acting like I’m the redeemed sod the Book says I am.

It works just like it does in the theater. When the director casts you in a show, you’re given a script. Your job is then to learn the script, take direction, and act well your part. Neither the director nor the audience cares about your family history, what kind of food you like, or whether you wear boxers or briefs. All that matters is that you give a good performance.

The performance is the thing.

The word hypocrisy comes from the Greek word hupokrisis which refers to the “acting of a theatrical part.” It is a neutral term. What gives hypocrisy a bad name is bad acting. Jesus jumped all over the Pharisees, not because they were worse human beings than anybody else, but because they were crappy actors who ignored the Script and the director. As a result, the redemption show got terrible reviews.

Jesus came to open a new production with actors who would actually listen to their director and learn the freaking Script. His new stage manager, the Apostle Paul, totally got this and told the cast of the Ephesian troupe, “You’re people of the light. So act like it.”

I’m thinking what Christendom needs around here is a few more really good hypocrites.

It’s your turn: Do you validate your personal faith more by your inner experience or your outer behavior? Leave a comment below.

POSTED ON December 3, 2013
  • Mick

    You really can’t separate the inner experience from the behavior. It’s like trying to separate Romans (faith alone) from James (works as evidence).

  • 2TrakMind

    I love the premise of this. It may not sound like it, but I really resound with your statement; “I’ve opted to take the Scriptures at face value, shrug off the temptation to judge myself, and simply practice acting like I’m the redeemed sod the Book says I am.”

    I do differ, a bit, on a couple of points, though. Forgive me if I miss the spirit of what you were trying to express. First, our religious programming has forever sent us mixed messages about who we are IN Christ. Messages that one minute, tell us we are new creations, holy and righteous, and the next says that we are just lowly sinners, saved by grace. The problem is that we have tried to sift out our identity in the Bible, rather than in Christ, Himself. This leads to the “maddening vortex of religious self-examination” you spoke about. This walk in Christ, though, is more than just a mind game where we try to “shrug off the temptation to judge ourselves,” or pretending to be what we don’t really believe we are. If I have to “practice acting like the redeemed sod the Book says I am,” I reveal that I have yet to fully embrace Christ as my identity. This life isn’t a game of smoke and mirrors, but a letting go of our notions of performance, and “hypocrisy,” and letting Christ fill us with Himself to where our identity is formed completely in Him. There is no script to learn, no parts to play, no illusions to maintain; just living in the reality of who He has made us, as new creations, holy and righteous. We don’t have to convince ourselves that we are redeemed because a Book says so; we are redeemed, because the God OF the Book has made us so.

  • Thank you for this. What a great thought and perspective by bringing back to what the original audience may have understood by this word, instead of our pop culture version of it.

Fred Allen is director of Burning Bush Ministries ( and New Scholars Academy ( He lives in Salem, Oregon.