Friday, December 29, 2006

Aren't Christians Hypocrites?

One of the objections to people becoming Christians is that Christians are all hypocrites. That is, they make great claims of being morally wonderful and then in reality, prove to be far from perfect. They are then seen as self-righteous, party poopers who try to impose their morality on everyone else but are far from perfect themselves.

Well I agree with this criticism to a degree. Christians are not perfect or better than anyone. Christians who claim the moral high ground make a crucial mistake from my reading of the Bible which forbids hypocrisy and self-righteousness. This is the thrust of Jesus' parable telling us to take the log out of own eye rather than look for the speck in others eyes (Mt 7:1-5).

An honest Christian will admit that they are not better than anyone else. What stands them apart is not their superiority in ethical behaviour (although they should be trying to live righteously), but that know they are no better than anyone else; they know they are not perfect; they know that they are sinful and full of weakness. What they have realised is not that they are superior, but that they need God’s forgiveness and salvation! Christians are not better than others, they are just forgiven!

If a Christian sets themselves up as superior they better watch out, they have showing the cardinal sin of pride and need taking down a peg or two.

Christians all let the team down at some point or other. All Christians make mistakes and are flawed. We are far from perfect. We all say one thing and do another because we are sinful.

Unfortunately a lot of Christians after a few years or so, can start to think they are better than others. They look down on society and have high expectations of others. They bemoan the sins of the world, while a huge log is often hanging out of their eyes. I have been guilty of this myself and am seeking to stop doing this, it is wrong.

So on behalf of all those Christians (myself included), let me apologise; sorry! I apologise to you personally for any Christian who has been a hypocrite and put you off Jesus.

I want to suggest to you that the existence of Christian hypocrites does not actually invalidate the essence of the message and the faith itself. What it does do is invalidate the honesty of the person involved. Jesus remains the same whether a follower of Jesus is a hypocrite or not. Jesus himself is what we believe in, not people who follow him.

I encourage you to look beyond human representations of Jesus to Jesus himself. He was no hypocrite but a wonderful man worthy of your allegiance. There is no evidence of hypocrisy in him; in fact, the people he challenged the most were those who claimed to be righteous in God's eyes, saw themselves above humanity and even shut out those who were supposedly less holy. Jesus himself hung out with sinners. He despised the self-righteous pharisee and declared righteous the sinful repentent humble tax-collector (read Lk 18:13-18 and Mt 23).

I accept that it is true that some Christians are hypocrites and that no Christian should be. Rather all us Christians should be humble in their lives and in the reality of our weaknesses, of which, if we are honest, there are many.

However I also believe that the existence of many hypocritical Christians does nothing to invalidate the faith or Christ and should not be used as an excuse to reject Christianity. If you are doing so, I challenge you to look beyond the hypocrisy of Christians to Jesus who was no hypocrite. Remember too that all of society is full of hypocrites who say one thing and do the other. What my hypocrisy does is reinforce the need for all of us to come to Christ as the only way to salvation. Will you do it?

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