[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]As we continue to ask and reflect on some big questions through our You Asked For It series, we’re taking about a question that can push people away from the Church: why can Christians so often be hypocritical and judgmental?
Whether it’s racism in the Church, church leaders engaging in abusive behavior, or Christians living in opposition to the love of the Gospel that they preach, it seems like hypocrisy is everywhere in the Church today. And while hypocrisy is typically identified by a behavior, it’s actually an issue that goes much deeper. It’s a heart issue. And because it’s a heart issue, hypocrisy isn’t just a Christian issue, it’s a human issue. Even so, there are some things to address regarding hypocrisy and its presence in the Church.
1. The Church is filled with people who aren’t actually Christians.
Read Matthew 7.20–23.
This can be a difficult thing to hear, but the truth is that being a Christian isn’t about going to church on Sunday and checking off a list of do’s and don’ts. In this passage, Jesus says that a true relationship with Him will lead to outward transformation and visible fruit. If we encounter someone who says they are a Christian but isn’t displaying signs of outward transformation, it’s important to consider that they may not be walking in a true relationship with Jesus.
2. Christianity isn’t just about good behavior; it’s about transformation.
Seeing a Christian living imperfectly isn’t necessarily hypocrisy. Perhaps it’s authenticity. The Bible tells us that we’re all broken and that none of us can live perfectly in accordance with Jesus’ teachings. But when we walk with Jesus on a lifelong journey, we can display signs of transformation as He redeems and restores the areas in our lives that are broken. We’ll never live perfectly, but we are constantly being transformed by Jesus’ love.
If Christian hypocrisy is a stumbling block to you, reflect on these two things:
1. The life of Jesus
Spend some time exploring and studying not only what He taught but how He lived. He was never a hypocrite: He made bold claims and backed them up with how He lived His life.
2. Evidence of Gospel transformation
Hypocrisy isn’t the only thing going on in the Church today. There are signs of vibrant transformation because of the Gospel: churches welcoming refugee families, Christians risking their lives and freedom to fight human trafficking and sex slavery, and people in the Church coming alongside deeply felt needs in communities. The good news of the Gospel—people experiencing Jesus’ saving grace and then extending it to others—is what fuels these movements.
We’ve spent some time addressing the issue of hypocrisy in the Church, but we also need to talk about Christians being judgmental. Many people argue that Christianity is just a set of moral codes to be judged against, and a lot of people see the Church scrutinizing people when they seem not to “measure up” to this moral authority. Before we talk about judgment, we have to spend some time reflecting on moral authority.
Moral authority isn’t a bad thing. It’s what gives us a basis for convictions and decisions, a concept of injustice, and a basis for good and evil. But it’s also important to remember that the moral authority of Jesus is only a part of Christianity.
Christians have figured out how to identify our moral convictions and Jesus’ moral authority, but we haven’t figured out how to communicate them with love. We judge from the outside rather than talking about moral convictions in the context of relationship.
Jesus, on the other hand, was able to uphold His moral convictions while showing incredible, radical love.
Read John 4.4–29.
Jesus saw where this woman was, saw her brokenness, and loved her enough to know that she was in need of something better. He offered her the option of a transformative relationship with Him.
The heart of Christianity is the acceptance and love of Jesus. A relationship with Him is the only thing that can heal wounds, relieve pain, bring freedom, and transform hearts.
- Have there been times when your behavior or actions could have been seen as hypocritical? How did these times affect your relationships with those around you, especially those outside of the Church?
- What is your walk with Jesus like right now? Are you seeing outward transformation and visible fruit because of your relationship with Him?
- Are there places in your life where you need to experience true, authentic Gospel transformation? What are they? Talk through them and pray over them with a friend or someone in your CABLE Group.
- When you talk to others about your moral convictions and God’s moral authority, are you doing it in love? Are you doing it in the context of an authentic relationship?
- Identify some practical steps you can take to begin upholding your moral convictions with the love and grace of the Gospel.