Friday, January 18, 2008

Hypocrites??

A new survey of U.S. adults who don't go to church, even on holidays, finds 72 percent say, "God, a higher or supreme being, actually exists." But just as many (72%) also say the church is "full of hypocrites," reports USATODAY.com. Additionally, 44 percent agree with the statement, "Christians get on my nerves." The survey was conducted by LifeWay Research, the research arm for the Southern Baptist Convention.

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.
Second, some outsiders mistake weakness for hypocrisy. The most genuine Christians I know still struggle with some weakness or another. They are humble enough and courageous enough to admit it. Christianity is not some guarantee against tempted; we all face temptation. The spirit is indeed willing but the flesh is weak (Matt. 26:41). A Christian does his best out of love to do right but still fails at times. A hypocrite neither loves nor intends to do right; he merely wants to cover his wrong ways and true motives in order to appear righteous. We must not confuse being human with bad motives.

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).

Phil

3 comments:

AncientWanderer said...

Phil-
#1- Sure I've met brethren who where hypocrites.

But:
#2- I've rarely met an uncircumcised Philistine I didn't give the benefit of the doubt.

#3- I've rarely met an uncircumcised Philistine who did the same for me.

That's just the nature of things. The problem is there are too many Christians who don't care one way or the other about uncircumcised Philistines and still others who do everything they can to get the approval of same said Philistines.

Paul the apostle said...

Phil, I see evidence and hope you are a recovering Pharasee. You may be able to leave your legalism behind. I hope so.

Phil Sanders said...

I don't usually allow tacky comments. I did this one, because it reflects the elitism and judgmentalism of the postmodernists, who think they never judge but do so all the time.

His condescending tone shows not only his ignorance but also his self-righteousness.

phil