Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Revelation of Christ's Expectations (Authenticity)

Part 8 of a series through the book of Revelation

Text: Revelation 3:1-6

ARE YOU REALLY WHAT YOU CLAIM TO BE?

Michael Guglielmucchi is a former Australian pastor. In October 2006, he announced that he had gone to the hospital for a series of tests and was diagnosed with “quite an aggressive form of cancer.”

As he struggled with his battle with cancer, he wrote the popular Christian worship song “Healer.”

You hold my every moment,
You calm my raging seas.
You walk with me through fire
And heal all my disease.

I trust in You,
I trust in You.

I believe You’re my Healer;
I believe You are all I need.
I believe You’re my Portion;
I believe You’re more than enough for me.
Jesus, You’re all I need.

On YouTube, you can find a video of Guglielmucchi singing “Healer” with an oxygen tube in his nose.

Guglielmucchi’s story and song became an inspiration to many Christians—especially those struggling with illness. There was only one problem. Michael Guglielmucchi didn’t have cancer. He was living a lie.

He faked symptoms of cancer. He wrote bogus emails from doctors. He sat in hospital waiting rooms alone while his family assumed he was getting treatment.

What do we call a person who lives a lie? A hypocrite.

Hypocrisy was a problem in the church in Sardis. Their reputation did not match reality. “You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (v. 1c).

Many people call themselves Christians but don’t live as Christians. They are Christians in name only (“nominal” Christians). That’s hypocrisy.

Jesus expects us to be authentic Christians, not hypocrites.

An authentic Christian is not a perfect Christian.

THE IMPORTANCE OF AUTHENTICITY

We hate hypocrisy, but we often tolerate it in our own lives.

Here are four reasons why it’s vital that we be authentic Christians:

1. Jesus hates hypocrisy.

Jesus hated the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of the Jews. “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).

Hypocrisy leads people away from Jesus. (“There are so many hypocrites in the church.”)

2. Jesus is not fooled by hypocrisy.

“I know your works” (v. 1b).

The Greek word for “hypocrisy” means “an actor.” (People are often surprised when an actor is nothing like the character he portrays.)

“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).

3. Jesus will not tolerate hypocrisy.

“If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you” (v. 3b).

Twice in the history of Sardis, the city was captured because the people were not watching (“thief in the night”).

Why were the asleep? Were they feeling too comfortable (no persecution is mentioned)?

4. Jesus offers no hope to those who are content with hypocrisy.

“The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels” (v. 5).

Can we lose eternal life? No. Salvation is by grace. But those who are content with hypocrisy should examine themselves.

Are “nominal” (name-only) Christians real Christians? Gangster Mickey Cohen once made a profession of faith in Christ. But later, when he didn't change his lifestyle, he said, “You never told me I had to give up my career. You never told me that I had to give up my friends. There are Christian movie stars, Christian athletes, Christian businessmen. So what’s the matter with a Christian gangster? If I have to give up all that—if that’s Christianity—count me out.”