The old Saturday Night Live segment "Church Chat" featuring Dana Carvey's portrayal of the Church Lady seems the epitome of religious hypocrisy. Her phony sweet, unctuous tone was really the voice of a prosecutor seeking an indictment. Often the offense was of some personal moral failing by the other.
But hypocrisy can have more range, extending beyond such narrow and often exaggerated trespasses like the Church Lady would seek to expose and condemn. An extended discussion in the sermon looks at how easily we construct our best principles, only to see them get trounced by the difficulty of their application in reality. Personal principles are one thing, but principles for a whole society of people brings a whole, new dimension.
This is what Micah and Jesus are condemning in the scriptures. The religious institutions and leaders of the day were often highly involved in social issues and political affairs. Religious leaders may display themselves as righteous, devout, and above reproach on an individual level. But Micah and Jesus see what disregard these same religious leaders have for social injustice, violence, and oppression inflicted on the weak, vulnerable, poor, and outcast - the ones of God's priority concern.
Let's be honest; the church has never been very good at living up to the values and principles that Jesus (and the prophets before him) set forth. It's hypocrisy has turned off many, many people in our contemporary era, with many young people expressing their indifference toward a church they regard as irrelevant.
Check out the sermon video below to wrestle with these issues, see how the church is missing the boat with a growing population, and how the faithful can be alert to what is not being said. What's missing in the messages we hear, compared to what Jesus talked about all the time? Those are the things getting little to no attention in today's religious world, the holy hypocrisy with which the church has always struggled. As always, downloads are below the video panel.