The Church Is Full of Hypocrites

Have you been turned off to the Christian faith because you had a run in with some "Christians" who acted like jerks? Many people have their story to tell about hypocrites in the church. Here's one I came across recently, told by an ex-minister and ex-Christian:

A guy named Paul handpainted a sign that he placed at the driveway entrance to our church that read, "Parking in the Rear." Well, we decided to put a row of parking in the front of the church and laid out RR ties and stone. Then I said, "What about the sign?" Fred, the head elder said "Let's take it down and tell Paul a car knocked it down." Fred also had a regular subscription to Playboy. I was appalled at the time. But in order to do any effective ministry I had to work with him. His daughter was also important among the ladies and she regularly lied. At some point I couldn't do it anymore and I increasingly got frustrated that the only people they cared that much about were their own family. It was a family church - theirs.

I can understand why people might give up on the Christian faith because of people like Fred.

What are we to make of hypocrites in the church?

For one thing, let's not make excuses for them. Jesus didn't. Did you ever consider the possibility that the church where you met all those hypocrites wasn't really a church at all? Maybe it's just a religious organization that calls itself a church.

The sad reality is this: There are churches where very few of the people know the first thing about the Bible or about being followers of Jesus. They're "Christians" because their moms and dads were. They're "Christians" because they were baptized in the church. They're "Christians" because they do all the religious ritual stuff. But they don't have a clue what it means to love God or love others the way Jesus did.

Jesus had a name for people like that. He called them religious hypocrites! That's right. The very thing you think they are, Jesus calls them the same thing.

Maybe the hypocrites you've met fall in that category. If so, why are you judging Christianity by people who aren't really Christians? That would be like somebody asking you to try filet mignon, and you say "no thanks" because you had a McDonald's hamburger once and didn't like it.

There is, of course, another possible explanation for the hypocritical Christians you've met. Maybe the problem is not that they are hypocrites. Maybe the problem is that they are human. Don't get me wrong. You have every right to expect Christians to act with some degree of morality and decency. And when we fall we should be upfront and honest about our sin. But I'm sure you don't expect Christians to be perfect, do you?

We aren't perfect. God is still in the process of changing us. If you don't like the ugly side of Christians, please know that many of us are just as disappointed with ourselves. I hate the fact that I still struggle with my sinfulness. And I bet if I was really in touch with all that goes on in my heart, I would see that I'm more of a hypocrite than I realize. But I see enough to know that I need Jesus Christ and his death on the cross to pay the price for my hypocrisy and sin.

Is it possible that the reason you hate hypocrisy in others so much is because you see some of it in yourself? I was just talking to an ex-churchgoer this week and he admitted that he had a higher standard for others than himself. When you think about it, we're all hypocrites. And that's why we all need the forgiveness that Christ has to offer, plus the power to change that comes from a relationship with him.

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