Monday, April 2, 2012

Our "Hypocrite Song"

Sometime in the 1990's, I ran across a singer named Paul Falzone. I loved his wit and poetry, as well as his gritty voice. I never heard from Paul Falzone again. However, a few years later, I heard a singer named Eli. He sounded a lot like Paul Falzone--mainly because he was Paul Falzone. He had taken Eli as his stage name. Why the history? Well, good question. But I was reading in Galatians 2 tonight and thought about an Eli song, called "Hypocrite Song."  The lyrics are worth reading. Here they are:

     I've been quick to point a finger, At things I find outrageous   
     Well, I wonder who I'll point at, When I read my life on pages 
     When I've played my final number, It really won't take long 
     To realize I sang a hypocrite song 

     I thank the Lord that there's a Heaven full of hypocrites like me 
     So tell the angels to get ready, Cuz it may not be too long 
     Until I come and sing my hypocrite song 

     I preach about redemption, As I look you in the face 
    Then I'm convinced I must be dyin', But it's just somethin' that I ate 
     But it's Jesus who gives mercy to make a weak man strong 
     So he can stand and sing his hypocrite song 
     (Repeat Chorus)

     I can't wait to see my Savior, and look Him in the face 
     Shake His hand and plainly thank Him for forgiving my mistakes 
     And for helping me remember, that even when I'm right I'm wrong, 
     Then we'll rejoice and sing this hypocrite song 
     (Repeat Chorus)
     (copyright 1999 by Eli, Forefront Records)

I never wanted to see myself in these lyrics, but I did. And, I guess that is why I thought of this song when I read Galatians 2 tonight. In Gal. 2:18, the apostle Paul wrote, “If I reconstruct something I have worked so hard to destroy, then I prove myself a sinner.” Apparently the apostle Peter had come to Antioch to visit his fellow apostle, Paul. Peter visited with Paul and the Christians in Antioch, many of whom were not of Jewish heritage, nor did they keep Jewish law after becoming Christian. Earlier, Peter, Paul, and the leaders of the church in Jerusalem (see Acts 15 and Gal. 1) had agreed that Gentiles who became Christians did not have to become Jews to follow Christ, since salvation was not found through faith in Christ rather than following the Jewish laws. Peter freely moved within these Gentile circles, even eating in their homes--until some Jewish Christians from Jerusalem arrived in Antioch. Now Peter had to decide who to offend--the Jews from Jerusalem or the Gentiles from Antioch. He chose to placate the Jewish Christians, who apparently believed that Christians still must maintain Jewish purity laws to faithfully follow Christ. Gal. 2 records Paul's rebuke of Peter for his hypocrisy. Unfortunately, I can see myself in Paul and Peter--depending upon what spot in my life you want to look at! 

Isn’t this all of our hypocrisy? OK, maybe I'm generalizing too much, and most Christians have no problem with this. I just haven't met them yet! We turn away from people God sent us to love. We rebuild walls as quickly as God tears them down. We celebrate our freedom in Christ only to enslave ourselves again to the rules. We lay down our heavy burdens in worship of our God, just to pick them right back up again. (This reminds me of a song by Jeni Varnadeau, "Why Would You Go Back?")

We are not much different than Peter. Who are the “Jews from Jerusalem” who cause us to display our hypocrisy?  What are the stones that you pick back up? Even more importantly, what are the stones that you cannot lay down at all? What blocks you from hearing from God? What blocks you from the life of obedience and fullness? Imagine a life without them!! Imagine a life of faithwalking! I am! 

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