Christians are a bunch of hypocrites. They say others should love God and others, but I don’t see them doing much of that.
How many of us have heard the Christians are hypocrites plug? It seems like that card has been pulled so frequently by objectors to Christianity. However, if we want to get serious about hypocrisy and be consistent with it, I believe everyone is a hypocrite.
How could everyone be a hypocrite?
Let’s look at pop-culture in the United States, at least, it has become trendy to support causes and show that you are charitable. Many celebrities have been active and vocal about various causes like helping Haiti, the poor in general, AIDS in Africa, people getting clean water, etc. Celebrities have been actively trying to show that they care for the poor. They give donations, large donations, and make frequent trips to different countries. They sing on television to raise money and speak on talk shows about their pet-cause (which is nearly cliché now to do). However, how many celebrities are continuing to live wealthy, overly exorbitant lives despite the problems of global poverty they seem to care so much about? It seems that they like to show that they care for the poor on the one hand, but they also enjoy being wealthy and sing more about being wealthy and famous. Celebrities are hypocritical.
Many people promote being environmentally conscious and living a “green” lifestyle in the US. However, rather than giving up doing the things that are harmful to the environment altogether, almost all people continue to do the same things but simply with the label of “green” attached. They drive multiple cars that are eco-friendlier or get better gas mileage, but they still drive them. The reality is people need to get to where they’re going and the modern world relies heavily upon transportation that uses technology that isn’t the best on the environment. Most, not all, “green” movement people promote and support being “green” with big environmental stickers above the exhaust pipes of their cars, or buy products and new technologies that are either harmful for the environment or are produced in ways that are still harmful to the environment (or the people, usually the people). Most, again not all, “green” movement folk are hypocrites.
Politicians…. I probably don’t even need to say anything here. Political campaigns thrive or fail on promoting the perfect image of a person to garner votes that politicians do anything and everything to get elected. They will intentionally lie to people while promoting an image of complete and utter honesty to the American people. One politician might want to identify with middle class workers by donning a Carhart jacket with Wranglers, and doing some photo-op manual labor which involves lifting a shovel and putting it in the ground (once or twice). All the while this same candidate is a multi-millionaire (at least) who hasn’t honestly worked a hard day of manual labor in his life. Another politician might be a chain smoker his entire life and stop smoking in order to show that he is a healthy person who cares about his health and doesn’t promote the image of doing drugs for the campaign, then when the campaign is over goes right back to chain-smoking or even does it while the camera isn’t on him in the campaign. These are real examples, and the list could go on. Politicians are hypocrites.
What about the average person? Most people see terrible things in the news. Disasters that have devastated countries or genocide in foreign nations or horrendous human rights abuses all are shown on the news. Everyone, nearly, would agree genocide is horrible and wrong and should be stopped and that not doing anything about it isn’t an option. People said never again after WWII with the Holocaust….. Rwandan genocide. What did people do? Practically nothing. More people were interested in President Bill Clinton’s approval ratings and the weekly sporting event. How many people have not just gone to help after a natural disaster, but simply donated to help with the relief efforts after in terms of percentage of the population of the US? Not much. A lot of people help after natural disasters in our country or elsewhere, but that number pales in comparison with the population of the US. The reality is many people say they care deeply about a great many things, but when it comes to living by those beliefs, most people fall far short of their big words. Most people are hypocrites.
Christians are criticized often about being hypocrites which is often why people outside Christianity might say they like Jesus, but not the church. Their critique is that Christians still struggle with sin. They don’t observe in Christianity what Christianity promotes about itself, or at least they would say. The truth is Christianity never promotes that everyone will be sinless, spotless, righteous, saviors of the world if everyone just believed in Jesus. Christianity says if you believe in Jesus, He is your perfect, sinless, spotless, righteous Savior, not us. Christianity is about addressing the problem of sin in the world, in our relationships, in our lives, in our hearts, and being honest and open about that sin confessing it to others and God, and turning away from that sin to Jesus who is our Savior from sin, our Righteousness. However, people seem to confuse conversion and sanctification. People seem to think repentance is a one time event where people believe in Jesus and turn from sin and are saved and are perfect human beings having converted to Christianity, but the reality is that following Jesus is a decision one makes, but that turning from sin and trusting Jesus is something that happens over the course of one’s lifetime.
Sanctification isn’t about being made righteous in a moment, being made perfect in a moment, it’s about being perfected by God’s Holy Spirit through a lifetime.
Objectors to Christianity who cry “Hypocrite!” at the latest tv preacher scandal or leader to have a serious moral flaw or corruption see that as means to justify their cause against Christianity. However, the Christian, sees that as certainly a negative and unfortunate thing, not at all a surprising thing because we are all sinful and fall short of the glory of God according to the Bible. There are those who know Jesus and those who don’t, the Bible refers to them as sinners and others as righteous. They are referred to being righteous not because of who they are, but because of who they believe in and His righteousness. Sinners are those who don’t believe, but sinners are also all those who do believe. Christianity says all are sinful, Christian and not. Believing in Jesus doesn’t make you not a sinner, you are still a sinner, but it does redeem and renew a heart that is turned toward sin. It doesn’t mean a Christian won’t struggle with sin because the Christian inhabits really 2 worlds. The Christian believes in Jesus and by faith in Him, is regarded as a new creation and is given the Holy Spirit to put sin to death and make that person more alive everyday in Jesus. On the other hand, the Christian struggles with being born a sinner, naturally, and has to battle the desire to sin and weigh that against the desire to not sin, the Spirit working within them.
This is not just choosing to do good and not bad. A non-Christian has this struggle of conscience. This is wrestling with what God finds offensive and what grieves the heart of God and what pleases man in his natural sinful state. It is seeking to find one’s pleasure not in sin, but in God, and in that pleasure living by faith in Jesus while the Spirit makes us righteous. Christians are not different from anyone else in regards to being drawn to sin and sinning, but they are different from everyone else in that they have power to overcome sin within them and though not always perfectly are actively seeking to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh every day. It’s not doing what is right for me and my conscience, but striving to live each day to God’s glory by putting sin to death and living by the Spirit. It’s in this way that the Christian life is not the peaceful sugar-coated world that some authors and tv personalities make it out to be, but it is warfare.
For the Christian, there are many dangers which can cause one to stumble into sin. Many temptations. However, perhaps the most glaring danger if we’re honest isn’t the stuff in pop-culture, the media, or in the local pub, but the most dangerous thing is ourselves. We are tempted to point outside ourselves to things that we label sinful, but what about turning the finger to our heart. It’s easy as a Christian to point to things that are wrong on the outside, but if we’re honest, how often do we point to what’s going on on the inside?
The most glaring danger for Christians in this way is not the sinful things, but the sinful heart.
We are not perfect people in a sinful world navigating the dangerous, choppy waters of life. We are sinful people in a sinful world seeking to live in a radically new and different way not by our own devices, but by God’s grace in Jesus Christ through faith in Him. We can think we are alone in the struggle, but that is a lie. We are not alone in the battle against sin, God has given us who believe in Him through Jesus His own presence in our lives, the Holy Spirit. The power that dealt the lethal blow to the head of sin at the cross of Jesus Christ and brought Jesus back from the dead dwells within us, God the Holy Spirit.
If we say we do not sin, we are a liar and the truth of God is not in us (1 John). If we’re honest, we all sin. That means that as Christians we need to be honest that we are sinners, but that we are not saved by our goodness and ability to be good in ourselves, but we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. So, it’s not that Christians are hypocrites, we are all hypocrites. We say we mean to do good and we don’t. We say we want to live a good life and we still do bad things. Every person is a hypocrite, but that should not drive us to hate ourselves, it should drive us to the One who is without hypocrisy, the One who is without sin, the One who is perfect, the One who is righteous – it should drive us to Jesus Christ, His life, death, and resurrection, as we surrender the perceived control over our lives to Him confessing that we are sinners in need of God’s grace in Him.
For further reading, check out Bradley Wright’s book Christians Are Hate-filled Hypocrites… and Other Lies You’ve Been Told.