We are happy to welcome ministry-focused college and seminary students from around the country and overseas to write in June of 2020 for The Park Forum. Each of them is pursuing a career in ministry and received free coaching on their writing as a part of the program. For more information about the program and a profile of each of our student writers, visit our Student Writers Month page.
Today’s student writer is Joshua B. Fikkert, a student at Covenant Theological Seminary.
Scripture Focus: Isaiah 48:1-2
1 “Listen to this, you descendants of Jacob,
you who are called by the name of Israel
and come from the line of Judah,
you who take oaths in the name of the Lord
and invoke the God of Israel—
but not in truth or righteousness—
2 you who call yourselves citizens of the holy city
and claim to rely on the God of Israel—
the Lord Almighty is his name:
Reflection: Hope for Hypocrites
By Joshua B. Fikkert
Hypocrites. Pharisees. Frauds. We all know one or two. The judgmental church lady in the front row. The theological expert who can always find something wrong with the sermon. The teacher’s pet who always sidles up to church leaders. Regardless of their form, we can easily identify them.
But seldom do we ever consider that we might actually be one.
If we take Scripture seriously, we ought to examine ourselves, turning the mirror on our own hearts (Romans 12:3). The ease with which we can point out hypocrites should make us wonder if our hearts are any different from theirs.
Isaiah 48 gives us a chilling reminder that it’s easy to be a hypocrite and a religious pretender. The people of Judah have all of the right credentials. They are God’s chosen people. They have a glorious heritage as descendants of Jacob.
Despite this, Isaiah calls them frauds. They call on God’s name falsely. They think they know the Scriptures and that they know God, but Isaiah insists they don’t.
Many of us subtly believe the same things Judah did. We think we have the right credentials. We’ve read the right books, and we attend church regularly. We think we’ve got the whole Christianity thing figured out.
Have we done these things in truth and righteousness or have we done them in pretense and pride?
When I examine my own heart, I am confronted with the reality that my motivations are often wrong. I am resting on my credentials, my own efforts, and my “self-imposed” religiosity (Colossians 2:23). However, God doesn’t want our credentials. He wants humble worshipers with “broken and contrite hearts” (Psalm 51:17).
For hypocrites like you and me, Isaiah extends good news. Our hypocrisy will not have the last word. God will have the final say. The Lord, Yahweh, who is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, will not abandon Judah or you or me (Exodus 34:6-7).
God promises to refine Judah, and he promises the same thing to us who believe. Pharisees like Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and Paul show us that Jesus can redeem even the worst hypocrites (John 19:38-42; Philippians 3:4-11). We, like them, must cling to the Suffering Servant, Jesus, whose voice we can hear whisper in verse 16. Jesus beckons us to humbly follow him as servants, putting aside pretense and falsehood and living in light, truth, and fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-10).
Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
To the Jews who believed in him, Jesus said: “If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples, you will come to know the truth and the truth will set you free.” — John 8.31-32
– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle
Isaiah 48 (Listen – 3:39)
Revelation 18 (Listen – 4:48)
Read more about Philemon’s Speck and Our Log
Our food is prepared for us, our coffee is customized for us, our packages are delivered for us, by servants.
Read more about The Worst Churches in the Bible
Down with the hypocrites. Down with the failures. Let rise the greater and wiser leaders of a more humble and sacrificial church. But this is just new idolatry to replace the old.