Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him. Matthew 2:8
During my first attempt at chemical dependency treatment, I met a guy in group therapy who seemed sincere . . . while the counselor was present. He participated, lamenting his destructive past. He even cried. When I had to tell my story, he was supportive, but when the counselor left the room, he offered to sell me drugs. I was more than a little annoyed with his gross hypocrisy. How could someone be so artificial?
Manipulation and lying come natural for the addict though, who has built a life on deception and duplicity. Even as I was offended by this other addict’s hypocrisy, I was living out my own. I participated in the group sessions, knowing that I wasn’t going to do any of the things the counselor told me I needed to continue after treatment. I was just going through the motions required for me to resume the life I wanted. I too, was a pretender, guilty of the same hypocrisy that offended me.
In today’s passage, Herod proved himself to be a manipulator who pretended to be a follower of Jesus, just so he could find him. Jealous of the infant, Herod sought Christ, not to worship him, but to kill him.
My hypocrisy may not be so obvious. I’ve never tried to sell drugs to another addict and I’ve never tried to kill a baby, but I too have pretended to follow God, while following me. I’ve gone to church, claiming faith, while pursuing my addiction at the same time. When it’s convenient, I’ve worshipped God on Sunday and then followed me the rest of the week.
Most of us do this in some way. It may not be as obvious as Herod, but we can all be fake Christians. We sing of our commitment to God when the music is right, but then we leave church only to indulge in our pride, anger, lust, greed, resentments, gluttony, and selfishness.
As long as we are in this flesh, we will struggle with our conflicting passions (James 4:1). If we truly want to be disciples of Christ though, we must be honest enough with ourselves to admit our hypocrisy. Daily, we must drag our failures before Christ, killing them so that we may truly follow him.