I’ve been reading Unchristian by Kinnaman, Barna research, Lyons, and other contributors.
It is a good book, so far very humbling to read but it is raising my awareness and passion about problems with the modern American church.
On particular topic that I want to blog about relating to the book is the term hypocrite.
Hypocrite is taken from an old Greek word that refers to wearing a mask. It is the idea of putting on an “act” or a “show.” The real person is behind the mask.
Hypocrisy occurs basically when you profess (or say that you believe) something that you do not really believe ( because your actions speak against what you say.) The reason it gets confusing is because it really is not hypocrisy when a pastor preaches against a sin with which he is personally struggling against.
It is not the belief that goes wrong (it is good to hold the belief against sin for instance) what goes wrong is the man, the person holding the belief. When he sins he goes against his belief, and becomes a hypocrite.
A hypocrite is two-faced. Says on thing and does another thing. Has double standards. In today’s world, actions speak louder than words.
The book goes on to say that the majority of the secular world view Christians as hypocrites. And that also they are “used” to hypocrites. The fact that the church of Christians is a church of hypocrites is no big deal to them. They see no difference between us Christians and the rest of the world…this is a huge image problem. They do not even care about our beliefs in holiness and living a Christian lifestyle, because they do not see it in our lives. They see us as hypocrites.
Encouraging this image problem is the church itself:
We have 2 main groups in the church today. These two groups are taking almost two different extremes.
First we have the older Christians who believe that lifestyle is extremely important. We should be living pure and holy lives that match up to Scripture.
Then we have the younger Christians who do not keep lifestyle as such a high priority.
Then the two groups collide, outsiders of the church see hypocrisy. The older Christians are teaching rules and regulations while the younger Christians are not keep or even trying to keep these rules.
What we should learn is balance.
First to the older Christians, return to grace. Return to mercy. return to realistic image of man. We are all sinners. Outsiders do not want to be a part of a church of rules and regulations. Focus on relationships, building trust and fellowship. Return to worship.
Perfection is not the answer. That is not what Christianity is about. If it is perfection you are seeking then you are reducing Christianity down to a list of moral benchmarks and judgementalism. This sucks because no one is ever going to be sinless, no one is perfect. This only scares outsiders away. Our faith is a relationship not rules! Stop presenting ourselves this way. Present Jesus! The forgiver of sins.
To the younger Christians, remember the commandments of the Lord. Think about the image you are portraying with your life to outsiders. We are sinful man, but we do not have to be slaves to sin. We return to Christ. We return to purity. It is God’s grace not rules and regulations.
This is disobedience and inauthentic. People view us a fake when we live just like everyone else, when they do not see the difference between us and the world. We need to live in accordance to Scripture, live the difference. Live in but not of the world.
As a whole, we need to return to accountability and transparency. We are struggling between being fake and being superficial. Is that the Christianity we want. This is Unchristian. This is bad. But this is where we stand. This is what outsiders of the church are seeing.
We need to return to authenticity and restoration. Instead of fighting a culture war, let’s transform by restoring people. Let’s fight poverty, crime, and addiction. Not the people. Let’s take real action.
Being completely honest and realistic we see that we are never going to not be hypocritical. Think about it we are sinners. We have a sin nature. The big picture is that we are sinners saved by grace. We are trying not to sin, but we will. And the difference to outsiders is that we are authentic. We are imperfect but we are full of grace and forgiveness. We admit our sin and show people where our source of restoration comes from, God.
We need to out of our high thrones or high pews. We need to let God humble us a bit. We need to see the outsiders. They are outside of our churches on the streets just a few feet away. But we are too good for them. How sad is that!?! The church has lost a lot of respect due to our arrogance and pride. Our inabilities to reach out to those on the street who really need you!