More often than not it seems as though Christians get thrown into the hypocritical category.
In fact, that is one of the main reasons onlookers veer away from Christianity. It has even gotten to the point where people are looking and waiting for Christians to slip up just so they can say,
“I could never get involved in the church. Christians are just to hypocritical.”
85% of late teens and twenty-somethings perceive Christianity as hypocritical!
Why is it that Christians get blamed for hypocrisy? Is this fair? What about the ones pointing the finger?
Lets take a look at this stereotypical view and see if we can put a finger on the spices in the recipe.
Maybe your parents drug you to church as a child and while at home they argued and bickered at each other or were possibly involved in an abusive relationship? Maybe you are in the same class with Nancy at school, a professing believer, but yet she also has a profound reputation for sleeping around with the football team? Or maybe you went to a church where the pastor, who appeared to be next door neighbors with Jesus Himself one day up and left and took all of the church’s money… and the secretary.
So, before we jump into this there is one thing that needs to be clarified:
Consider this: You got invited to come to church by one of your Christian friends. While there, you naturally observe those around you. As you scan the crowd, you see someone who you saw at a bar last night doing un-Godly things. Or, you see someone who was at last weeks homecoming party and at the party he was taking body shots off of one of the cheerleaders.
DO NOT be so quick to jump to conclusions. Have you ever considered the fact that they might be just like you: A non-Christian scoping out the church?
Roughly 80% of the non-Christian population in the age bracket of 16-29 will attend church for at least 3 months in their lives.
NOT EVERYONE WHO GOES TO CHURCH IS A CHRISTIAN
Second thought: Hypocrisy is not a Christian problem, it is a human problem.
Now I am not saying that there are not people in the Church who claim to be Christians who are really hypocrites. That is on the contrary and I will definitely get to that point but first let us consider hypocrisy from an un-biased view.
There are two definition of a hypocrite:
1. a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, esp. a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.
In other words a person who claims to believe something but in actuality DOES NOT REALLY BELIEVE what they claim and THEREFORE act oppositional.
2. a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, esp. one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.
In other words, there are atheists and agnostics who say they are open-minded, tolerant, believe in racial equality and peace and think that they are politically correct.
But they are not.
They know that our culture values those things so they put them at the top of their list but the fact is that what they claim to believe does not line up with their world view.
Atheists are often hypocrites when they make universally moral statements.
An atheist does not believe in God or any supreme being and is a purely materialistic person, meaning not that they love possessions, but that their world view is shaped by science, Darwinian-Evolution, and the materials of the world. They believe the world is a product of random chance evolution.
Those same people will also say things like, “War is immoral. World hunger should never be. Rich people are responsible for taking care of the poor. Strong people should never take advantage of weak people.”
These are universally moral statements. These statements presuppose that there is a supernatural being above and beyond human kind that possesses power to control such universal morality.
As an atheist if you claim that “strong people should never take advantage of weak people,” or “that a strong country should not have overthrown that weak country,” you are making a claim that is a fundamental rejection of your world view which says that you started out as a single cell molecule that multiplied upon multiplication resulting in natural selection, meaning the fittest and the strongest survive. Or that the fit members or strongest members of your species would be the ones who would forwardly push the evolutionary chain. Thus, we as humans are a product of the strongest defeating the weakest. So, to say that “this large army” should not defeat “this small army” is to go against your philosophy of the strongest will survive, and also an example of the definition of hypocrisy.
DISCLAIMER: I am not saying that atheists are not capable of being moral or of making moral statements. To be consistent with their philosophy, atheists must make moral statements that are subjective, temporal (as opposed to universal), in relation to a culture, or that are true for themselves because they are abiding by the rules of cause and effect. They could say:
“I do not believe in lying because I do not want to reap the repercussions of my dishonesty. I do not believe is stealing because I do not want to get caught and go to jail.” It is immoral for murder to take place because it would destroy the fabric of this culture.”
Atheists can not make statements that “born again believers of God” claim such as, “I believe the strong should help the weak and the rich should sacrifice their wealth for the poor.” Christians believe in a god who teaches mercy, grace and sacrifice. They have a Biblical world view which says that whose things are good, that God has created all of humanity equally and that the world should act in accordance. They can say that in full confidence because they believe is a world view that is shaped by scripture which teaches that mercy, grace, sacrifice, peace, and love are good things.
Third thought: Hypocrisy IS NOT someone who says they believe in something but at a given moment make a particular choice or action that does not live out what they truly believe.
In other words, they make a mistake.
There is not one person on the earth who is not a part of this category. We all do this every day. Consider this:
You are sitting in a restaurant looking at the menu and you see food that is healthy, will give you energy, benefit your body, and help you to live longer… and then you see things on the menu that are going to taste extremely better minus the health aspect. You say to yourself, “I believe that I ought to choose these things that are healthy: It will make me feel better, I will have more energy, sleep better, and look thinner in the mirror.” BUT WE ALWAYS CHOOSE THE BURRITO!
In that moment you are not choosing what you believe to be true but are you being hypocritical?
That is not hypocrisy. That is humanity. That is the inability of human beings to be consistent with their beliefs.
What about the new Christian who struggles with addiction? Because you saw her take a drink are you going to label her a hypocrite? That is not hypocrisy.
That is weakness and that is brokenness.
Final thought: Just because someone says they are a Christian does not always mean that they are a Christian.
Anybody can say they are anything.
I can say that I am a professional musician because I am in a band but just because I am in a band does not make me a professional musician.
The definition of a Christian is not the proclamation of the words, “I am a Christian.” That should not be the definition of a Christian by any humans standards and that is definitely not the definition of a Christianity by the Bibles standards.
1 John 2: 15-16
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.
John just said that if you love the things of the world, the love of God is not in you. From my previous study, we have discovered that God is love. Thus, if the love of the Father is not in you, God is not in you.
A proclaiming Christian can say whatever they want but if their loves and values are of the things of this world… GOD IS NOT IN THEM!
Just because your Christian friend says, “I want to skip class today,” your judgments should not reflect on their Christianity but on their personality at that given time.
Now, if you see your professing Christian friend continually showing up at parties shooting heroin and sleeping around with any girl that crosses his path then you might want to question his Christianity.
Where do you draw the line? If a Christian is involved in habitual sin then they probably love the things of the world (their sins) more than they love God. If it is a one time thing, then you should question your friend’s judgment but do not be so quick to jump on the credibility of their beliefs.
Bottom line: not all Christians are Christians. Christians should be judged by their lives and not wholly by their works.