You lifted your hands in praise, eyes closed as you sang from your heart, reveling in God’s presence. As prayer was led, your head bowed in reverence as I’m sure you poured everything out to the Father. Your voice could be heard affirming the pastor as he preached the message and you were among the first to the Lord’s Table to partake of the bread and wine. Everything about you told the surrounding body how devoutly you take your faith and I’m certain that you are regarded as a model Christian within the congregation.
But the damage had already been done.
Did you stop to think before you drove into the church parking lot against the one-way sign? Sure, there was probably going to be little outgoing traffic at the beginning of service and if there was you could just pull to the side but that’s not the point. The polished chrome fish on your tailgate marked your allegiance for all to see out on the road. All the people around you on the busy boulevard also watched your shiny fish break the law just to take a shortcut into the church parking lot. They saw the real you and saw a hypocrite.
Sadly, you also made all of us out to be hypocrites.
You see, we proclaim a relationship with Jesus Christ that goes beyond the church walls on Sunday morning. We claim that our lives are constantly being molded and modified by the Holy Spirit. We claim to live in submission to others, sometimes boldly saying that we have a better way of life that we would like to invite others to share. We claim all of that and even try to live it out.
Only to have it destroyed by one small moment where one of us demonstrates that we’re really no different from the rest of the world.
When one of us demonstrates this in the small things (like following the traffic laws) it reflects on the whole Church in the larger things.