"Why would I want to go to church and sit next to John Bibby while he acts all holy when I know for a fact that he is cheating on his wife?" I knew what was coming next. I knew the criticism my friend was about to level against the church just down the street from his house. "The church is full of hypocrites!"
It's true. John Bibby was cheating on his wife and if you walk into any church this Sunday, you are probably going to sit in the pew right next to someone who is a habitual liar, abusive to their family, drinking more than they should, or, dare I say it, eating more than they should.
You will likely see people whom you have heard utter a choice word about their boss, cheated on their taxes or lied to their spouse. The church is full of people like that. But the fact that they aren't perfect isn't what makes them hypocrites.
Hypocrisy is saying one thing and doing another, right? What makes this all hypocritical is not one's imperfect life, but the fact that the definition of Christianity is tied to some level of holy perfection. To be a Christian is to be someone who is close to sinless.
Not really. At the most fundamental level, to be a Christian means to recognize the exact opposite of that definition.
The Bible is clear: Every person sins. Not only that, but we neither have the power to rid ourselves of sin nor the power to repair the brokenness it creates in our lives and in our relationship with God. The teachings of all Christian denominations say that Jesus is the answer to that problem. He is the only way that a sinner can deal with his or her sin. Following him is the only path that leads away from the fractured life created by sin gone unchecked.
What does that mean about Christianity? Being a Christian means recognizing that you are sinful and cannot deal with it on your own. You cannot fix it, and you need the unconditional grace of a forgiving God to heal the wounds.
From there, we try to grow in holiness. When that desire for change gets filtered through our brokenness, it can be expressed sometimes as judgmentalism and at other times as permissive acceptance -- which shouldn't be a surprise knowing that our first step is recognizing that we are hopelessly messed up.
All of that begs the question: Why do Christians allow the holier-than-thou definition of our faith to persist and make us look like hypocrites? To be completely honest, I'm not really sure. Maybe it makes people feel better than the person across the street, or maybe it helps them hide the things they do that make them ashamed.
All of that is to say that if you know you are broken and are looking for a place to experience healing, forgiveness and restoration, if you are well aware of your own sin and could use a community of sinners to support your quest to change, give that church full of hypocrites down the street a try. There is grace, forgiveness and healing available to all who ask.
>>>Read More: 5 Simple Ways to Keep Skeptics Out of the Church