Why would the unchurched call Christians hypocrites who get on their nerves?
First, it is probably because some are. Many religionists in the days of Jesus were hypocrites. A hypocrite is a person who pretends to be what he does not intend to be. Think with me how this might look to outsiders who have not heard the message in a while:
- a church that sends its members all over the United and protests the death of soldiers, claiming this is God's judgment against our nation over social ills (especially homosexuality). Their judgmentalism gets on everyone's nerves. That's God's place. Who doesn't remember Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker?
- a Christianity that turns its worship services into an entertainment venue, featuring and honoring many artists whose moral lives do not reflect the Christian life (folks, I live within a few miles of where 90% of Christian music is recorded)
- a Christianity that does not always forgive its penitent--the cult of the older brother (Luke 15) is alive and well among some.
- some Christians practice "in-your-face" evangelism in an irritating way, building up barriers before they can get to the heart.
- God knows that flaky and worldly churches are a discredit to the community and to his Name. Cults and commercialism capture the media today. Unbelievers aren't always exposed to genuine faith and true piety. What they see are the flakes, the cults, and the compromisers. Christians in the media are nearly always pictured as fanatics or hypocrites. It is hard to find a true Christian on television.
- Then there are pseudo-prophets who speak of a 700 ft.-tall Jesus, or the end of the world in 2012. Do you really think the world sees a difference between such deceived deceivers and genuine Biblical Christianity? not always.
- Many unbelievers cannot distinguish the sensational disbelievers who are trying to restore Gnosticism from what they term as manipulative traditional Christianity. Others cannot distinguish Biblical Christianity from the pomp and ritualism of Catholicism.
Third, some outsiders make this claim (not because it is always true) as a defense mechanism to keep the focus off of their own lifestyles. If they can make everyone believe all Christians are hypocrites, then they feel free to live as they please with impunity. It is easier to point the finger than it is to repent.
You might come up with some other reasons. I know this is not exhaustive. But as I end this little essay, let's also give some culpability to the devil. He steals the word so that some never hear and obey (Luke 8), he leads people astray from a pure devotion (2 Cor. 11:2), he and his servants disguise themselves as servants of light (2 Cor. 11:14-15), and he has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4).
Are they right about Christians? yes and no. If we see hypocrisy in our selves, let's not give the enemy an opportunity to blaspheme the Name. Let's repent.
"Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation." (1 Pet. 2:11-12).