What if I’m put off Christianity by all the hypocrites?

Posted: July 20, 2011 by Nathan in What If...
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Many people are put off Christianity by what they see as the hypocrisy of Christians. Now, I’m not here to defend hypocrisy, nor am I here to say it all a misunderstanding. I am here however, to see if there is some middle ground.

 

 

Nobody likes hypocrisy. It has a tendency to show people up as two faced, having double standards and as bare faced liars. To my mind I’m not sure which is worse a Christian being hypocritical or Christian building themselves up for the fall in the first place. From my experience the kind of hypocrisy that people notice are things like…

 

 

Christians proclaiming that they live by a higher moral code and then running off with the next door neighbour.

 

 

Christians having a holier-than-thou attitude but swearing at their kids behind closed doors.

 

 

Christians making public displays of charitable giving but being mean to their neighbours.

 

 

We all have in mind hypocritical acts that we have found difficult to accept. So why do Christians have a reputation as being hypocritical? I can, of course, only theorise but these are some reasons why Christian can be hypocritical.

 

 

Christians strive to be the best they can be. Or at least they should. In fact a Christian should aim to be perfect. So, straight away you can see the flaw in the plan. The gap between what a Christian should be or would like to be and what they actually are is huge. So we are left with a gaping (hypocritical?) void between the ideal and the reality. Christians live in this void. St. Paul said that he does the evil he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do the good that he wants to do!  As Christians we always fall short of the goal set for us. I guess the outside world sees the goal and the reality and sees the void not as human shortcomings but as hypocrisy. So why is this?

 

 

Christians have a tendency to lump everyone in the same boat. As a Christian I believe that the wisdom contained in the Bible is relevant to my life and gives me ideals to live by. These ideals, ethics, morals, values, laws, rules or whatever you want to call them form a framework for how I believe God would have me live. Now I believe God, as creator and sustainer, knows how life works best. So I believe that if the whole world lived by these ideals the world would be a much better place. So I should do my best to impose these ideals on everyone? No, of course not. However, many Christians, consciously or not, impose their ideals on those around them. I guess we all do it to some extent or other, we judge others by the standard we set for ourselves. My belief is this. I believe that God created and now sustains the world. As creator and sustainer I believe He knows the best way for us as humans to live. I believe He has set down, within the Bible, these guidelines. I believe that if you believe this then you should apply these guidelines to your life. However, I believe that if you do not believe the first part then these rules will not necessarily make any sense to you at all. I believe that a relationship with God must precede application of these guidelines. The relationship must precede the rules. Otherwise the rules make no sense at all. Many Christians find this difficult to understand and try to impose their beliefs on others without explaining or introducing people o the reason for their beliefs. If I tell someone not to walk across a beach that they want to cross they will most likely ignore me. However, if I tell them not to walk across the beach because I have come to believe there is sinking sand out their they now have the opportunity to weigh up my advice and decide whether they walk across the beach or not. The guidance that God has set out only works in it’s full context.

 

As I mentioned before I don’t want to defend hypocrisy but I do want to say that it is a difficult path that Christians walk. Becoming a Christian doesn’t give you all the answers. Being a Christian does not make you perfect, you are still as human as ever. As Christians we strive to do our best but we ALL fail time and time again. You could say that Christians, in general, are pretty poor ambassadors for God. (And I certainly include myself in that). However, it would be a mistake to write God off because of the quality (or lack of it) of His followers.

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