"Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head. To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul." —Matthew 23:12; Psalm 3:3; Psalm 25:1 (NASB)
Sock Puppet Syndrome
Church was once a familiar, safe place. But, that changed when divorce altered my life. Since becoming a single parent, religious institutions, overall, have been mostly disappointing experiences for me. In Matthew 23, Jesus identifies the reasons I no longer feel welcome.
Jesus was not shy about megaphoning to large crowds and his disciples the false identities projected by high profile religious leaders. Today, "sock puppets" refer to people using false online identities for deceptive purposes. In Jesus' day, he called them hypocrites.
What do religious pretenders with power look like? They—
- Tell you what to do, but they do not do what they say you should do.
- Are unwilling to lift a finger to help lift your burden.
- Want you to notice them, acting all religious and righteous in public.
- Love their religious titles and their places of honor and best seats at public and religious functions. (Matthew 28)
Outwardly, their false masks look great, but they're dead men walking. They are as empty as a lifeless sock puppet. Jesus also described them as blind, fools, robbers, lawless, serpents, vipers, persecutors, killers, and self-indulgent.
They devoured widows, who were the single parents of Jesus' day. They claimed to know and speak for God, but they didn't. They built monuments, neglecting justice, mercy, faithfulness, and caring for others.
Over the years, I've depended upon my "Underground Church." They include others humbled by life's circumstances or they understand God's heart regarding single parents. They listen to me when I'm down, encourage me and remind me to lift my concerns to God, who is faithful, merciful and just.