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.