By Cindy Koch –
There she sits in church. Her flawless makeup glows in the morning sunlight, but you can barely see the bronze boundary line hidden under her chin, exposing that fragile shell of beauty she wears on the outside. She smiles, but a tension at the crease of her lips hints at the mechanical show she must again perform this morning. Her words are careful, considerate, guarded. Her voice is so unnaturally calm. In fact, one might suspect a screaming demon is held captive just behind her next breath. But there she sits, confident that she belongs there.
But I know her better. I used to know this girl before she showed up at church. Her evils run deep. There are dark places she has been and disgusting things she has done. There were friends she lied to and destroyed. There were simple commitments, things that everyone else could keep, that she chose to ignore. She is not honorable. She is not nice. I wouldn’t trust her.
But there she sits in church. What a hypocrite! How can someone so terrible take a place before a holy God? Her dirty life is ruining His sanctuary. Her bad choices are mocking His goodness. Who does she think she is? Her secret anger shames His everlasting peace. Her uncontrolled desires embarrass His perfect way. What makes her believe she is good enough? What a hypocrite to think she belongs there.
So, who does belong there, sitting at church? God is pretty clear in His Word: “He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart. He who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord. He who swears to his own hurt and does not change. He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully” (Psalm 15 & 24).
Now I look around, and there are even more hypocrites than before—men and women, young and old. They have all entered into this place to sit here and look like a lie. Even God sees it. “The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:2-3).
And there we sit in church. We see our evil, dark, and disgusting lives on display for all to see. But the words there say something else. We listen to the perfect work that Someone did in our place. We trust a new reality after drowning and dying to sin. We taste a feast that is promised only for eternal saints. We hear that the Son of God gifted us His name, His identity, and His life.
So, there I confidently sit in church. I come to church because Christ is the one who did good. I belong in church because that’s where hypocrites are free.