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Kolar: Be not poor 'Actors' in faith

"'You hypocrites!' Such convicting words, and words we should all hear in our hearts and minds when we start judging the way others may practice their faith," writes Janel Kolar.

Rev. Janel F. Kolar is the pastor at First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in Dickinson, North Dakota.
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Luke 13:15: But the Lord answered him and said, "You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water?”

The religious elite were often critical of Jesus. They didn’t like the way he practiced his faith. In fact, they looked for fault in him at every turn – attempting to discredit him and peg him as some sort of blasphemous heathen. In this particular case, he had just healed a woman who had been bent over for 18 years. This, surely, was a great thing, right? Except in the eyes of the religious elite, who were seething with jealousy and skepticism and just waiting for him to screw up. He healed the woman on a Sunday, and was quickly called out by the leadership of the synagogue for failing to observe the strict rules of the sabbath.

Jesus called them “hypocrites” (in Greek, hypokrites) a word that literally translated means “actors”. They were not truly concerned with the observation of the Sabbath, they were putting on a show. They were “acting” like righteous teachers, when in truth, their hearts were malicious. Anyone can pretend to be holy and upright, but God knows our hearts, not just what he sees when we are “acting” out our parts.

“You hypocrites!” Such convicting words, and words we should all hear in our hearts and minds when we start judging the way others may practice their faith. I know I hear those words sometimes – when I’m making judgments about what I consider “questionable” faith practices and standards. I hear those words sometimes when I’ve rolled my eyes after someone makes a statement about scripture that I interpret quite differently. I hear those words when I think others ought to study a little bit more open mindedly…and then realize I could probably do the same. I hear those words when I actually want to say those words – to call out others for being hypocritical.

We are all hypocrites, in the basic sense of that word. We all act. It is when our actions are not authentic that Jesus notices and scolds us. Best then not to “try” to be what we are not – not to assume our way is the best way – not to separate ourselves into righteous and unrighteous, because that’s not really our job as the leaders of the synagogue found out when they attempted to tell Jesus what was right and wrong. There is not one person who is good, righteous, or holy – not one of us. We all fall short….and we have to be okay with that. Otherwise, we are trying to act out the role of “God”, pretending we are something we are not, or perhaps pretending we are not something (broken) when we, indeed, all are. That is simply role-playing, not faithful living, and it makes us hypocrites.


I guess the call then is to simply be who we are. Actors get criticized for that – for putting too much of themselves into a role. But Jesus is looking for a cast of actors who are real….who know their own place in the world, and who are not trying to play a part they have no business playing. Just be who you really, truly are. That’s the kind of “acting” Jesus loves.

Related Topics: FAITH
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