Christians are Hypocrites

“I don’t go to church, because Christians are nothing but hypocrites!”

This charge is often levied against churches, or the people who attend them.

“I know a guy/girl who goes to church, and acts Christian, but they did this, or that.” “I talked to this pastor, and he was a jerk.” “At least I’m real and true to who I am, Christians pretend like they are perfect or righteous.”

Let’s cut past all the subterfuge and subtlety. Are Christians hypocrites? Yes. Every single one. Hypocrisy is the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform. By definition, Christians have moral beliefs, set forth by God’s word, to which we desire to adhere. But every single Christian fails in this task. Every single one falls short, and I dare say this happens daily in the heart and minds of each, if not in actions.

Jesus says, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” The moment this expectation, demanded by a holy God (for what else could infinite perfection demand), has failed to come to fruition, even in the smallest of ways, we have by definition become hypocrites and in fact, lawbreakers. We have failed to live up to a moral standard we accept as right.

But let us consider an atheist, who by definition, has a subjective moral code, derived from either ones own opinion, from popular opinion, or from the opinion of those who are in charge and can force a citizenry to exercise a particular behavior. In these instances, a moral code also exists, albeit one that is not handed down from a perfect creator, but is instead decided upon by mankind. If we reflect on the results of these subjective moral laws, depending on the flexible moral code of a given society, then two results  can generally be expected:

  1. If you live in a morally stringent society with heavily girded laws, as a citizen subject to these agreed upon codes, any violation of these codes renders you a hypocrite, and a law breaker, i.e. anyone who disagrees with Sharia.
  2. If you live in a morally relativistic society, defined by anarchy, nihilism, or lawlessness, or if you have determined within your own subjective mind that your behavior should fit no moral code (i.e. sociopath, or in religion – New Ageism), then you have absolved yourself from consequence to escape guilt. Anything goes.

Number 2 is extreme, and approaches mental disorder, however the reality in everyday life is a combination of the two. Often one who wishes for the freedom to be flexible in beliefs finds themselves to be militaristic towards anyone who holds to an opposite view, like during an abortion or transgenderism conversation, thereby pitting one set of subjective beliefs against another, if there is indeed no standard, and neither of which has more merit.

The reality is, therefore, to escape being a hypocrite against whichever moral code you reside under,

you must either operate perfectly within that framework – nigh impossible, or

you must adopt a framework with a moral bar set so low that you can’t help but live up to its standard, and then defend it militantly to escape any shame and guilt associated with those behaviors, or

you must constantly be ‘moving the goal posts’ within an ever changing set of standards, which is by definition, not a standard at all.

With careful, logical scrutiny, one could conclude that every acceptable moral set of beliefs would inherently have as its members nothing but hypocrites, all of whom are constantly trying, and re-trying, to live up to the expectations they believe in. As it is with every pursuit in life, from sports, to education, to religion, to parenting, human experiences are riddled with failures, and shortfalls. We strive for excellence in these pursuits, though we may never achieve perfection, and in so doing we work to better ourselves. It is the same with our walk in Christ, and for this walk we use the word sanctification, a lifelong and constant goal. The alternative, in Christianity, as well as sports/parenting/education, is to set the standard so low, that you feel validated by sub-par character and performance. This is no way to enrich a life, or the lives of those around you.

The result of this constant falling short is accepting the reality of hypocrisy. This is why Christians should gather in churches, as it is a place not only for worshiping the one person who set up the holiest standard possible, and then lived up to it, but also to surround yourselves with those who cannot, and are there to love and support each other. This is the essence of the body of Christ. Those who recognize that despite all human effort, they are in need of grace and mercy from a holy Creator.

Let me save you the trouble of pointing it out. You will not find perfect Christians in church. Christians struggle with anger, alcohol, sexual immorality, hate, depression, gossip – oh Lord the gossip, among a myriad of other sins. Yes we hide them, yes we don’t like to announce our struggles and shames from the mountain tops, and yes we pray for forgiveness constantly for not being as good as we can be. But there is peace and joy in Christ, in grace, and in knowing that we can let go of all of our missteps and focus the next day on how to love better. And despite these struggles, there is a concerted effort (or should be in a healthy church group) to do good works, to support others, and to be generous with the gifts that we do have.

If you are a non-believer that has had an unpleasant experience with a Christian, please realize that this person is struggling daily to do what is right, or may be going through his or her own temptations or trials, just like you. To dismiss thousands of years and mounds of evidence of revelation from God, to dismiss all His good works to bring about a savior, and our relationship with Him, and to dismiss the reality of eternal life with that Creator, because you interacted with someone who fell short in their walk is to dismiss the very reason we need Jesus Christ. In fact, as an unbeliever, are you not claiming to have a problem with a belief to which you do not conform? Is that not hypocrisy?

So if someone finally reaches the conclusion that he or she has fallen short of God’s perfect moral standard, that they are ready to admit that they are a hypocrite in their own right, based on the moral law written on their heart, then they can safely come to a church of believers. They are in good company, a place full of hypocrites, who all have fallen short, and all wish to experience freedom from their sins. If I see you there, I will do my best to lift you up, and do life with you. But I am a hypocrite too, so I may fail, and need forgiveness from time to time.

 

I’m a Fanatic, or a Hypocrite

I have previously defined myself as a biblicist. This means that I Believe the bible from cover to cover, a rarity, and absolute foolishness to most. Some would retort, “How can you take literally that which was intended as metaphor, or poetry?” The response is of course, I don’t. I realize that different styles of writing are utilized to unfold the entirety of biblical canon. Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones puts it this way:

“The word [biblicist] connotes one who, while taking both the immediate and the remote context in to account, interprets and believes in the bible literally.”

He goes on to say that despite continual biblical criticism, the biblicist believes the promises and concepts therein, and also recognizes the rarity of such a belief, even among pastors, priests, and seminary professors, a shame in my opinion. But we can rest assured that this doesn’t mean I am so dense that I don’t understand prose and allegory are used.

Some other critic might say, “But how can you trust what was written over 2000 years ago!” A great question, not for this article, perhaps, but one that every believer and non-believer needs to answer for themselves. My studies have led me to believe in the truth of the word for many reasons, such as fulfilled prophecy, expert eye-witness accounting, corroboration with history and archaeology, just to name a few. Despite being amazingly unique in its circulation and teachings, it has been preserved better then any ancient book, the next closest being Homer’s Illiad. Just to clue you in to how much better the Bible is preserved, we possess 643 ancient copies of the Illiad, while we possess over 25,000 of the new testament. John Warwick Montgomery said this: “To be skeptical of the resultant text of the New Testament books is to allow  all of classical antiquity to slip into obscurity…”

For more on this subject and others regarding the text, try reading Josh Macdowell’s “New evidence that Demands a Verdict.” The first 200 pages of this book alone will change your world.

Regardless of how I answer critics, the point is that I always do, and zealously so, usually leaping from a sketchy foothold of slight coolness or quiet reserve, (which admittedly is very little to begin with) into an emotional soap-box diatribe, that causes any listener I may have to regard me thereafter with caution. If they don’t know me well, they will say I am a Fanatic, way too zealous and over the top, a bible-beater, a Jesus freak, a literalist who needs to relax because I take ‘religion’ way too seriously.

If the person does know me, then I fear in their hearts, they regard me as a hypocrite. Anyone who believes the word of God so fervently, they must think themselves righteous beyond reproach; a Christian who knows he is better then those he preaches to; a saint among sinners. I must seem so false to those who know my struggles, because the fact is, I fail every day, and they know it. They have seen me stumble, they have seen me fall. They have seen a filthy mouth, and a worse mind, a heart that fights darkness, and a mind that fights anger. They have seen my insecurities cause me to act out in hopes of public approval. They have seen me weak with drink, with words, and with action. They have seen my life, and all of its failures, and they know intuitively that this is not a saint that stands before them. This is not a so-called ‘good christian’. This isn’t a person who should be preaching to anyone. They must watch me wax on and on about my favorite subject, sometimes hotly, sometimes over too many glasses of wine, sometimes after trying to fit in, and they must immediately chalk me up as a fraud. A Hypocrite.

And they are right.

But also, they are not.

It is my favorite subject, because of how beautiful the mosaic is. How intricate the history of redemption is, and how it offers endless study that leads you deeper and deeper into awestruck wonder as you go. And at the bottom of it all, when all is said and done, if the conversation will allow and anyone is left to listen, they will find I am not judging, but just excited. They will find the whole reason that it is my favorite subject is indeed because I am so broken, and so imperfect, and so sinful. It is precisely because of the unique grace offered to us, and that I recognize I need it, that I drone on and on beyond what social protocol dictates. I do not mean to. I just love the material.

So yes, I am a hypocrite, because I am quite imperfect and am preaching. But I am not, because I recognize my imperfection, and therefore recognize my absolute need for grace. This makes me fanatical.

To address fanaticism, let us consider the bible. In it, God claims to have made the very world you stand upon. literally, the ground beneath you. Not only do you draw each breath by His grace, but every beautiful thing you have ever smiled at, ever enjoyed, ever felt, was because of Him. Not only that, He continued to love you, despite your sin, and offered you the inheritance of His son, Jesus Christ, who made all things. It says every single thing, the universe, everything was made… for Him. Even you.

It says this. There is no getting around it. It says fear the Lord, and work out your salvation with fear and trembling. It promises one of two results upon death, either the judgement seat of Christ, or the white throne judgement. If you don’t know which one you will be present for, it should scare you. Why am I fanatical? If it is not true, and is just a religion like all the others, to appease the weakness of man, and lessen the reality of death’s sting, then to be zealous would be foolishness. But being a Christian is hard. Why would we put ourselves through it, when we could instead fill our days with carnal pleasure, self-service, and indifference? There wouldn’t be a need to bother others with our beliefs, and persecution would be someone else’s problem. So why then, if it is so counter-intuitive to be Christian, do we allow God to be Lord over our lives?

Because it’s true.

And I for one would rather live a difficult truth, even with all its problems, then live a comfortable lie, and face the reality of God’s holiness when I die. Upon studying the Bible, to be honest, I find it hard to believe we all aren’t fanatics. I know one day I will wish I had been even more so.

So if I get excited talking about it with you, please know, I’m just a flawed person trying to love you, because God loved me first.