"How terrible for you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You are hypocrites! You close the door for people to enter the kingdom of heaven. You yourselves don't enter, and you stop others who are trying to enter."
-- Matthew 23:13
The ancient Greeks produced some of the greatest philosophers in world history. Plato, Aristotle and Socrates were some of their best-known thinkers, and their influence is still felt in classrooms today. As much as they enjoyed debating new ideas and concepts, the Greeks also loved show business. Their playwrights--much like today's Hollywood screenwriters--produced numerous popular comedies, tragedies and dramas that were performed in vast open-air theaters.
One interesting characteristic of their shows was that the same actors often played multiple roles on stage. But rather than relying on elaborate makeup or costumes, they instead wore masks that conveyed exaggerated expressions. This is the origin of the familiar happy-and-sad mask icon that has for centuries symbolized the theatric arts. And it's through the actors' practice of changing masks according to the scene that we can trace the term "two-faced," meaning hypocritical.
Today, there are millions of people around the globe who are considering Christianity and evaluating the followers of Jesus. They want to know if these "People of the Word" really live out each day what's preached on Sundays, or if they're just two-faced hypocrites who are living out a lie.
It's a legitimate question that everyone who calls him or herself a Christ-follower must consider. Although none of us is perfect and we all fall far short of God's high standards, the thoughts, words and deeds of true Christ-followers should reflect the inner workings of God's power through the Holy Spirit. So when that day finally comes when we meet Jesus face-to-face, may our encounter be like that of Nathanael, one of Christ's original disciples:
"Now here is a true man of Israel," proclaimed Jesus when He first met His soon-to-be follower. "There is no deceit in him!"
Nathanael was stunned to hear these words because He had never seen Jesus. But as God in human form, Christ already knew everything about him: and just as intimately as He knows today about our own thoughts, motives--and most importantly--our hearts. And however we may try to hide it, He can always perceive our true appearance behind the mask.