Talking with a friend who had just witnessed to someone days earlier, he related the story of how he talked with the young man about Jesus, and about how the young man had responded that he didn’t believe in Christianity, and that everyone who called themselves a Christian were just a bunch of hypocrites anyway. As he went on to tell the story, my mind was stuck on that singular stinging indictment of all Christendom. Whether we like it or not, what the world sees when they look at Christianity today is not Christ, but a bunch of hypocrites who think they are better than everyone else.
Typically, Christians tend to react defensively to this. When the world points out all the atrocities and horrors inflicted in the name of Christianity, we like to point out all the good things people have done in the name of Christ. There are arguments and pointed examples for both sides to be sure. There is also a tendency to point out that there are “real” and “fake” Christians, and that it is all the “fake” Christians out there who live ungodly lives that are giving the good Christians (like yourself) a bad name.
Think about that last sentence for a moment. Go back and read it again if you need to. In making that argument, have we not just clarified in the mind of the world that “Christians think they are better than everyone else.”
Step back from the scene for a moment and try to imagine how God sees it all. The world is full of sin and sinners, and you and I are no exceptions. From the Bible to the laws of men and even the internal mechanisms we all adhere to for a standard of right and wrong, we all, Christians and non-Christians alike, say we believe in a code of right and wrong and yet fail to live up to that standard whatever it may be. We try to do what is right, but we often fail. That makes all of us hypocrites.
Where the world sees a difference is that Christians don’t own that. The world knows and understands, and even accepts that they do wrong. Christians on the other hand are so busy trying to live a right life that they sometimes get consumed with it, and in that pursuit they see they are doing right things more than they were before and that can lead some to elevate themselves above others as a people who are better than others. Going to church, reading your Bible, praying, and living a good life are all good things, but they do not make you better than anyone: Isaiah 64:6 ” . . . and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags . . .”
So how to respond when someone calls you a hypocrite? Just own it. It’s true, but understand we are all hypocrites. Just because you go to church and try to live a right life does not make you better than anyone else. Also understand, that Christ did not love you because you were good, Christ loved you because you needed to be loved. Without His love, there would be no salvation. The lost person who calls you hypocrite needs to see that love that Christ loved you with. Even though you are not perfect, and even though you are a hypocrite who struggles to do right and often may fail to make the mark, you can still show the love of Christ.
Reposted from www.MenRising.com 8/1/2011