The Hypocritical Christian
These are just some of the things American Christians are known for.
First, can I just tell you that I am sorry? I am sorry for every person that has misrepresented Christ and hurt you. I am sorry to those that I have hurt in the name of Jesus.
Some of us have distorted the Good News of the Gospel; we have given a false representation of who the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit really are. We have shown you a God of Judgment and not a God of Love. I hear a lot of people say that God is all-loving and that is correct, and there is a lot more to God's character that does involve judgment, it is just a matter of how that is presented.
We have given people a bunch of "moral" standards and consequences for failing to meet those standards. We have not acted like Christ at all.
We are supposed to be people of grace and truth, yet we say some of the most hateful things people have ever heard. We have called out the sins in your life, and then failed to look in the mirror at ourselves and where we struggle with sin.
There are some churches and some Christians who have gotten it right. This is not to say they don’t struggle, but they are known by their likeness to Christ.
For the most part, though, the reputation of the American Christian church is not a good one.
You are probably familiar with the sex scandals and abuse that churches can never seem to get out from under and the years and years of covering up sin.
The closer you get to the church community, the more you see.
We see parents who kick out their gay children; parents who disown their daughters because they become pregnant out of wedlock. The parent who works is in the ministry and verbally abuses their child. Spousal abuse is also a huge problem for both husbands and wives alike. Then these people go into church and act like they haven’t done anything wrong. As a parent, myself, I can tell you that I have made my own mistakes and not always been Christlike to my kids.
I could talk for days upon days about how the "church" has missed a huge opportunity when it comes to abortion because of the hate speech that comes out of it, both from the pastors and the people who sit in the pews.
Does it disgust you? I am sure it does, and you don’t want to be anything like that person. You think, "If that is what following Jesus is like, I don’t want any part of that!" I get it. I said those same things and then I became one of them, however unintentionally.
How did we get it so wrong?
Sin is the answer to that. It is the root of all badly behaving Christians. The idea that going to church makes you a good person or that people who accept Jesus don't sin is a lie. We also bring a lot of things into the church with us, such as core beliefs that don't line up with Jesus. The kicker is, sometimes, we don't even know we have these competing beliefs and then we sound like we are talking out of both sides of our mouths. This is how you hear blessings and curses come from the same person.
The first thing I want to unpack is a thought I had before I gave my life to Christ. I thought in order to be a Christian, people had to be good. I thought that "church people" fell into two categories:
Either they were good people and didn’t struggle with anything bad, or they were bad people pretending to be good.
I was wrong!
After I accepted Christ, I thought that my sin struggle would go away.
I was wrong about that too!
The Apostle Paul says this: "I do not understand what I do. What I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. "
What he is saying is that he wants to do good, but he struggles with sin. Paul’s confession shows his humility. He wanted to be better than he was, but he knew he was fallen and sinful. Christ was his only hope.
Those are some who know they are sinful, like Paul, but they fall into the pit and don’t know how to get out. They are paralyzed by guilt, shame, and fear. They walk into church on Sunday morning in hopes of finding the will to break free, but ultimately feel like a failure and resign themselves to the sin cycle they are in. These people fear that if their sin were to be found out and they would face severe judgment.
Then there are those who can not even see their own sin. They feel justified by scripture. (They are incorrect.)Let’s use abortion as an example, but there are many other situations where this plays out.
The Christian faith teaches that one shall not murder, and then they condemn women who have had abortions. They say hateful things to her, all in the name of Jesus, not understanding how they are murdering her spirit with their tongue. These people are blind to the fact that they are not showing Christ at all. Jesus spoke the truth in love. He never spoke condemning words of hate.
All I can say about these people is that there is usually a personal connection to their judgment and they have not connected those dots. Either it is a struggle they have been through, i.e., a miscarriage, or they have aborted themselves, and they are so angry that they take that out on everyone else.
This is also a good indication that they are not understanding the complete teaching of scripture. Scripture does say that murder is a sin AND that we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We have given a lot of "truth" without any love. This is not a picture of Jesus.
I am not making excuses for badly behaving Christians, but I am hoping to give you insight into this behavior and to tell you that Jesus is so much better than we have shown you.
We are not perfect and we get it wrong a lot of the time.
The problem is that some people don't know how to talk about their own sin struggles. Let’s face it, it's usually easier to see something wrong in someone else's life than it is in our own lives.
For a moment, though, let’s change our focus from people to Jesus.
Jesus was all about love, AND He was all about truth. He sat with the sinners, and he loved the unloveable. He called out sin when and where he saw it, but he always did this in love.
A great example of this is the story of the women at the well. If you don’t know it, check it out. It’s a great picture of Jesus living out truth in love. ( John 4:1-26)
So many of us, in faith and out, struggle with the concept of unconditional love. We don’t know how to receive it, so we don’t know how to give it. That is not Jesus, though. He loved perfectly.
Jesus died for you as much as he died for me. The Good News of the Gospel is that Jesus loves you and paved the way of redemption for all of us. Please don’t judge Him by all of us. If you seek Him out, you will find Him and you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
Can I leave you with this encouragement; We can be a people that think in black and white terms, it’s either all this or it’s all that. Not all Christians are the same. We are in different places in our faith walk and struggle with different sins.
So the next time you see a church scandal in the media or witness a Christian behaving badly, please know that that is not a clear representation of Christ, it is the result of the sin struggle of someone that is trying to walk with Christ.
The other thing to keep in mind is that just because someone claims to be of Christ, doesn’t mean they actually follow Christ. The truth is, they may not know Him at all.