Barriers – The Problem of Hypocrisy

 

Christianity has a problem. Modern people contend that the greatest proof that God does not exist is the behavior of Christians themselves!

 

Barna Research Group – 2007

Top three problems people have with Christianity

  1. Anti-homosexual – 91%
  2. Judgmental – 87%
  3. Hypocritical – 85%

 

This is a problem that we can’t hide from but have to deal with fully and honestly.

 

Steven Weinberg

“Good people will do good things, bad people will do bad things, but for good people to do bad things – that takes religion.”

 

There are two reasons for the existence of hypocritical, judgmental and mean-spirited people in the church, both throughout history and in modern times.

 

  1. The church is filled with people who aren’t actually Christians

 

  1. False teachers, false disciples

 

Matthew 7:15-20 (738)

“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

 

The church has people in it who are there because they like power and authority. They speak using words that sound scriptural but their actions both in leadership and in private reveal their true heart. They are dark and will ultimately lead people astray. Beware of these people.

 

  1. Cultural Christians

 

Matthew 7:21-23 (738)

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

 

One of the scariest passages of scripture to me. Highlights that there is a disconnect between people who are wholeheartedly invested in the teachings of Christ versus cultural Christians.

 

Cultural Christians create an image problem for Christianity

A poll taken about differences in lifestyle between Christians and non-Christians found these groups to be statistically identical in the following list:

  • Gambling, visiting pornographic websites, taking something that didn’t belong to them, saying mean things behind someone’s back, consulting a medium or psychic, having a physical fight or abusing someone, using illegal or nonprescription drugs, saying something that’s not true, getting back at someone for something they did, and consuming enough alcohol to be considered legally drunk
  • The only area less common for Christians to do was recycling – 68% vs 79%

 

This exemplifies what people mean when they say Christians are hypocrites.

  • Claim to be morally upright but we look, sound, act, and live no differently than anyone else in the world
  • The Bible says that if there is no outward change in behavior, allegiance, love, and passions then Jesus would question whether they are Christians at all.
  • The lives of cultural Christians misrepresent Christianity to the world because they think they understand Christianity but their actions and words prove otherwise.
  • This group is sometimes the most judgmental inside the church and out.

 

Evil acts done in the name of Christ

Atheists often point to major events in Christianity’s past as evidence of its brutality and true nature.

 

  • Crusades
    • Often described as a holy war where the church slaughtered muslins
    • More accurately, it was a geo-political war over land and empire size with the Ottomans. Europe was primarily Catholic and the Ottomans were primarily Muslim.
    • More akin to the fight in Ireland of the north and the south. No one believe this is really a fight about Protestantism or Catholicism but rather control of who gets to make decisions.
    • Experts estimate between 200,000 – 250,000 killed during the Crusades.

 

  • The Inquisition
    • The Church was looking for heresy but mostly dealt with power and control of people and groups they didn’t like.
      • Started in France. Spread to Spain, Portugal, Asia, the Americas
      • Russia today: Young people trying to change things are charged with a felony so they can

 

  • Witch Trials (Europe and Salem, Mass.)
    • I will tie this rock around your neck and throw you in the lake. If you survive, you are a witch and we will burn you. If you die, you were not a witch.
    • Europe: 40,000-60,000
    • Salem: About 25

 

We need to own up to these events. They happened. Some people believe that religion poisons everything. They point to these atrocities and claim atheism as the next great movement away from brutality.

 

Here is the problem that reasoning, atheism has its issues too.

  • Hitler killed 6 million Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, etc in the name of cultural purity.
  • The Khmer Rouge killed 2 million of their own people
  • Stalin killed 20 million through mass slayings and labor camps.
  • Mao exterminated an estimated 50 to 70 million of his own people.
  • All this in the last 100 years.

 

We need to own up to our history but if we are all being honest, each side needs to do the same.

 

We also need to admit that faith that God exists, showing up to church, and following some basic rules is not what this life is about.

 

James 2:17-20 (931)

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God.[f] Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

 

What are these good deeds and where do we learn about them?

 

We need to approach Christianity based off of its central teachings not other people who try and follow it. It’s not about what Darrick teaches or what I teach.

  • What did Jesus teach?
  • How did Jesus live?
  • How can I emulate this?

 

  1. The church is a place for sinners, not perfect people

 

  1. John Burke, “No Perfect People Allowed: Creating a Come As You Are Church

 

  1. People misunderstand the message of Christianity
    1. They believe it to be about making bad people into good people
    2. That you’re supposed to follow all the rules and have your life together
  • Assume that “Christian” = “Good person”

 

  1. The gospel is not about what we do for God. It’s about what God has done for us.

 

James 2:8-10 (931)

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

 

  1. If this is true what we should expect to see in a church is broken, messed up people who admit they are sinners and are seeking the love and grace of a saving God.

 

We need more people looking to encourage what God is already at work doing in the life of people. Our job isn’t to judge if God is moving fast enough or if there is still work to do. Of course there is still work to do.

  • Look in the mirror at your own life and hopefully you will see that there is still work to do.
  • If you see perfection, you’re looking in the wrong mirror and living in serious self-deception.

 

Helping people take their next step towards Christ

We can’t judge based off what we immediately see.

  • Not where are they at this moment spiritually or morally.
  • Rather: From where did they start?
  • We are a church filled with messed up people.
  • From the outside it looks hypocritical
  • The solution is honesty and transparency because the truth is, we all have our issues and problems.
  • Robin Williams, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind always.”

 

Once I came to the place where I was able to be honest with myself, my struggles, my history, etc. I was free to allow people to be in process. To not be perfect but on the journey with me.

 

The church is filled with hypocrites. This has not been an excuse but a challenge to view us with the eyes of reality.

 

The fact that there are messed up people here is proof that Christianity is working.

 

Colossians 3:12-15 (903)

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

 

Our challenge:

  • Do not look for hypocrisy among each other but love each other to the next step towards Christ.
  • Love people outside of the church fully and completely. Be honest with your life struggles with non-believers and be known for who you really are.

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