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Living in a House of Mirrors

Luke 6:41-42 


Sixteen people, including three law enforcement officers suffered minor injuries when the crowd at a Dodge City, Kansas concert became unruly. The deputy police chief said, concertgoers who paid $20 for seats to hear Tejano artist Pedro Fernandez became upset when they did not see the performer they expected.The imposter was exposed when the audience noticed the man posing as Fernandez did a poor job lip-synching Fernandez's songs. 

Authorities said when the crowd realized the Pedro Fernandez on the stage was not the real Pedro Fernandez, they became disturbed and the situation began to get out of control. Law enforcement officials in Dodge City were out-manned and had to call in reinforcements from the local Sheriffs' office. Police used pepper spray to disperse the crowd, and several people had to be treated at the scene by emergency medical teams. (Fresh Illustrations

Why did the crowd respond so strongly? Nobody likes being conned. Nobody likes being lied to. In this instance, the deception was overt, sometimes the deception is more subtle, like when we are hypocritical. Luke 6:41-42 (NASB) says, "And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? [42] Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye." 

Ever go into a house of mirrors at an amusement park? I like the one that makes me look tall & skinny, but can't stand the one that makes me look short and fat. And then there is the room with mirrors facing each other. When I walk into that room, I can look in either direction and see a million images of myself, gradually getting smaller. But the room that leaves me scratching my head isn't the room where the mirrors face each other, but the room with multiple mirrors facing at different angles. In crime movies on location in a house of mirrors, there is usually a scene where one person shoots at another person who is in this room. They always miss them, but shatter their reflection in a mirror.

Whenever I read this parable, I usually feel like I'm in the house of mirrors in the room with multiple mirrors facing each other at varying angles. The text itself is about hypocrisy. People accusing others of committing sins that they are committing themselves. Like when Jessie Ventura asserted that organized religion is a "sham" and a "crutch for weak-minded people," Jay Leno, the host of the Tonight Show quipped, "Gee, isn't it good that professional wrestling isn't like that?" (Fresh Illustrations It is hilarious to think that a former professional wrestler turned politician would criticize organized religion for being a "sham," when everybody knows that it would be hard to find a bigger "sham" than the WWF. No offense to wrestling fans, but is it possible for any church-goer to demonstrate greater weak-mindedness than a wrestling fan does?

OK, that's easy to see. Where the verse becomes a trip to a house of mirrors is when I start seeing hypocrisy in others while not seeing it in myself. It is when I am quick to notice Ventura's hypocrisy but am not willing to see that he has a point. Religion can be a sham that takes advantage of weak people. Remove all the tele-evangelists and snake-oil salesmen types and he still has a point. Even good decent church goers-people like you and me-can be guilty of being duplicitous. The road to spiritual health begins by admitting it. So I'm left scratching my head asking, where is the real hypocrite? 

In an interview with, Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon responds with unique candor to the music press' contention that he is "pretentious."He said,"Well, I mean, pretension; the very word. Surely that's exactly what everybody in this industry does, pretend to be something or other. A lot of people go 'keep it real', but what exactly are they keeping real? You're basically keeping some mythical '60s rock attitude real, which is fake anyway." (Fresh Illustrations Hannon, basically says there is a hypocrite in every mirror-nobody is real.

I recently read the lyrics to one of Hannon's songs that hit me square in the eyes. In his song, Eye of the Needle, he writes, "The cars in the churchyard are shiny and German/Completely at odds with the theme of the sermon/And during communion I stare at the people/Squeezing themselves through the eye of the needle." (Fresh Illustrations Hannon comes by his observations of hypocrisy in the church honestly. His father is an Anglican clergyman in Northern Ireland.

Let me ask you, is Hannon right? Is that what we do?Are our lifestyle and our beliefs incongruent? Are we holding onto the Bible with one hand and clinging to the world with the other? If we are trying to do that, then we need to pay heed to Jesus' words in Luke 16:13 KJV "No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." 

What about Britney Spears? In an interview with Teen People published in February 2000, Britney Spears, the popular pop icon said, "I'm a Christian, I go to church." Yet E! Online (1-25-01) reports that the 19-year-old princess freaked out prior to her performance at the "Rock in Rio festival." Unaware that her microphone was on, she dropped the "F-bomb" back stage and was caught on tape. At the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, Spears wore a see through body suit that left little to the imagination. Yet she claims to be a Christian. Nadya Labi, in a feature article for Time magazine (February 5, 2001, p. 66) wrote: "And while continuing to promote her wholesome attitudes, she is enticing a legion of young fans into a world that is anything but G-rated." (Fresh Illustrations

Does Spears' duplicity trouble you? Because Spears lives "on the record" her duplicity is on display for the world to see. Since we live more private lives, ours is more subtle and perhaps we'll never get caught. And that's where we enter into the house of mirrors with this text again. It is easy for me to criticize Spears, even in this public forum, because I believe what she is doing is hurting our children. And she makes it worse by claiming to be a Christian. Frankly, if she is going to behave like she is, I wish she'd keep her alleged faith private. But what about my hypocrisy? Aren't there ways in which I don't live what I say I believe? For instance, I teach that it is important to be kind to others, but I'm not always kind, in fact, there are times that I can be a real jerk-just ask my wife, she'll tell you. So before I reach for the speck in Spears' eye, should I tend to the log in my own?

I don't mean to be fatalistic here. Yes, I believe we're all hypocrites and when people say the church is filled with hypocrites, they are right-I usually tell them that, then I tell them that I think they'll fit in nicely. In the same vein that we repeatedly teach that all have sinned, today I teach that there are times when we are all living in the house of mirrors, and sometimes we don't even know who the "real us" is. As we focus on being real, though, the emphasis is on not being an intentional hypocrite-on doing our best to be genuine and work on our shortcomings. And when we do, others will notice something authentic in us.

Bob Woodward is a trained skeptic. As you know, in 1973, he and Carl Bernstein won the Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of Watergate. The New York Times calls Woodward the most famous investigative reporter in America

When he was recently asked about President Bush's religious conviction and what role it plays in his presidency, Bob Woodward said, "it's sincere and genuine…he exudes an earthy sincerity that extends to his religious beliefs.I accept it at face value." The genuineness of Bush's faith disarms skepticism and causes an investigative reporter to accept it at "face value." 
(Fresh Illustrations

In the end, it is not what we say that communicates, but how we live. James 2:22 (NASB) says, "You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected;" 

As we genuinely try to live what we say we believe, let's do it outside of the house of mirrors, where we are tempted to extract specks from other people's eyes while ignoring the logs in our own. 

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