Theatrical Religion

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said to His listeners, Do not sound a trumpet before thee as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets. In New Testament times the Greek word here translated 'hypocrite' meant an actor or a stage player.

According to columnist John R. Gunn, "there's a good deal of putting on; of acting a role; of outright hypocrisy in religion, as in everything else men do. An actor is not what he appears to be on the stage - he's merely playing a role. And in religious circles, there are many who play the role of saint without an element of saintliness in their characters. It is this theatrical religion that Jesus condemns - a religion which manifests itself only in religious pretensions, religious regalia and religious ceremonies. Back of such religion, there is no heart and soul, no vital conviction, no genuine sincerity. Its performances are all staged -  engaged in merely to win the admiration and praise of men.

The man who is merely stage acting in religion will cease playing the part when there is no audience to applaud. Forbid him to sound a trumpet before him when he is about to give to the poor and he will cease to give. Forbid him to pray where he will be seen and heard of men and he will cease to pray. All true Christians abhor this 'playing to the stage' pretense. God repudiates and condemns it; God is a spirit and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth."

If your religion springs from spiritual insight and conviction, it will manifest itself in moral purity, faithfulness to duty and unselfish service to God and men.