“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” -Matthew 23:27-28 (ESV)
It is easy to read this passage and think that it does not apply to us. At times, it may not, but we are all sinners and no one on this earth will reach the day of judgment unscathed.
In the secular world, we see many whitewashed tombs. So much stock is put into appearance. People have extensive plastic surgery to keep them from looking “old.” Makeup companies advertise using unrealistic, photoshopped images of models. Even our produce is genetically altered to look perfect. Humans are obsessed with the idea of perfection, even though it is unattainable in this life. As Christians it is easy to sit back and judge the world because in many cases, we can see the fallacy of the world’s teachings through the lens of scripture. But we are just as guilty of putting on a mask for the world.
What are our whitewashed tombs today?
I would argue that our church buildings, our Sunday outfits, and our Instagram/Facebook posts are our whitewashed tombs.
What good is a beautiful church building if the people inside are judgmental, inhospitable gossips that look down on you if you respond to the invitation?
What good is your “Sunday best” if someone from the community comes to service wearing worn jeans and a t-shirt and you refuse to greet them because they are not dressed as you think they should be?
What good are your “picture-perfect” social media posts if they make your life seem perfect so no one feels comfortable or safe talking to you about their struggles?
You ask anyone what their problem is with the Lord’s church and 1 of the 2 responses you’ll hear most often is, “the people in the church are hypocrites.”
We are not perfect. We do not have it all together. We have good days and bad days. We have addictions. Our kids are not always well-behaved. Our thoughts are not always on Christ. Our houses are not always clean. We want more things, more money, more time. We spend too much. We don’t pray enough. We make mistakes. So why do we try to fool others into thinking that the above statements are false? We are not fooling God.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV)
We are not called to be perfect people. We are called to be obedient to a perfect Savior (John 14:23-24). We are called to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). How are we obeying Christ when we impose our opinions (things not specified in scripture) on others as if our opinions were inspired by God? How are we bearing one another’s burdens when we are unapproachable or when everyone knows that whatever we are told will be gossipped about tomorrow.. God judges the heart (Hebrews 4:12), but it does not matter what you wear, if your heart is not right, nothing good can come from you (Matthew 12:34-35).
There is nothing wrong with having a beautiful church building as long as the hearts inside are more beautiful.
There is nothing wrong with dressing up on Sunday morning as long as we understand that our “dressed up” may not be attainable for some people.
There is nothing wrong with having pretty social media posts as long as your followers/friends know that you are not trying to be something you are not.
I believe that more people would be won over to Christ and the life He calls us to live if the people who claim to follow Him tried to embody Him more than the scribes and Pharisees.
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Romans 3:23 (ESV)
We will never be worthy of God’s gift of grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) so why are we acting like we are?