Catch Me If You Can
by Mark Trodd
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Did you know that the word hypocrite comes from the Greek word 'hupokrites' which means actor? An actor seeks to tell a story by pretending to be someone they are not. An accomplished actor is rightly applauded and rewarded for their skills, but if they used those same skills to exploit, abuse and defraud people we would be calling the police.
In the movie Catch Me If You Can, Leonardo Di Caprio plays a famous conman who made a living pretending to be someone that he was not. He successfully impersonated an airline pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer (without qualifications) because of his ability to control, manipulate and deceive people until the FBI finally caught up with him.
We are all guilty of hypocrisy in some form, because we are all capable of misleading and deceiving others for our own ends. But, when it involves betrayal and abuse, the trail of devastation can be catastrophic especially when children are involved and the perpetrators have positions of trust. We have all heard shocking stories about children who were stolen (taken from parents), abused and exploited by adults who were supposed to be protecting them. Many such stories have surfaced in recent years and some very prominent and respected institutions have had their reputations destroyed - often because of their own failure to make an adequate response at the time.
When our son's grade one teacher was arrested and convicted of child molesting 10 years ago, we were relieved to know that our son was not a victim. We had even invited him to our home for a meal. Fortunately, he was caught and put in jail; and yet, the damage that he (and others like him) has done to the victims, their families, and the wider community cannot be measured.
We, as a society, must face the truth about such abuses no matter how uncomfortable because we owe it to the victims who were not believed or protected. Unless we deal with the perpetrators, and those who failed to stop them, we cannot rebuild the trust that makes real healing possible. When we can't trust priests, pastors, teachers, scout masters, social workers, coaches, children's entertainers, friends and family, who can we trust?
Jesus confronted hypocrisy because it led to blatant exploitation and undermined the trust that makes relationships work. His harshest words were for the religious hypocrites whose bad behaviour distorted peoples view of God. He took the whip to those who used religion just to make money, and rebuked others for their "holier than thou" attitudes. To those who abused children and lead them astray, He warned,It would be better if a heavy millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. Jesus called religious hypocrites white-washed tombs, who looked good on the outside, but underneath was death and decay. No wonder they wanted Him dead.
God hates hypocrisy in all its forms because it undermines relationships and has the potential to become something far worse. We may fool others, but God will not be conned when He asks us to explain ourselves. From God's perspective, we are all sinners who deserve to be punished for our sins whether great or small and no amount of good deeds or excuses can erase them. YET, He did not send His Son Jesus to condemn us, He sent Him to save us to die for our sins.
"Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed." Romans 10:1
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