The following was published by The Gisborne Herald on Saturday 25 August 2007:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
The gospel, the story of Jesus Christ, is the heart of the Christian faith. The teachings, life, and ministry of Jesus are the blueprint by which Christians are commanded to live their lives. Through the example of Jesus, we are presented with an opportunity to make our lives, and the lives of those around us, better.
The logic, the intent, is quite simple. “Let your light shine …” the Gospels encourage us, “… so that others will see, and give glory to your Father in Heaven.”
If we ask ourselves the question, “How are Christians seen today?”, what would our answers be? “They are irrelevant and out of touch”, I’ve heard some say, “They are all hypocrites”. The example of our Churches, and the Christian faith that they represent, seem to fall short of their gospel promise.
In Matthew 6:5, Jesus said “… don’t be like the hypocrites …”. The word hypocrite originally referred to actors, who wore masks with funnelled mouth-pieces to amplify their voices. A hypocritical Christian is one who acts well, makes their “voice” seem bigger than it really is, and hides behind a mask.
The challenge for those of us who believe in Christ, is to live the gospel without hypocrisy. Our community responds positively to those who are authentic in their gospel, and benefit from them. In light of the many ills that face our society, like domestic violence and abuse, we need Christians with authentic gospel lives now more than ever.
The gospel requires us to be selfless, not selfish, child-like, but not childish. If we can live that way daily, we may come to know that true power of the Gospel – life, and life abundantly. That, my friends, is the Gospel we should be sharing. Anything less is hypocrisy.