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Hypocritical: Part 1 – He’s still working on me

Calling Christians hypocritical is like beating a dead horse. We’ve been down this road before. Once, twice, maybe a hundred times. In unChristian, Kinnaman reports that his study revealed that 85% of outsiders (remember, we was looking specifically at 16-29 year olds) described Christians are hypocritical. That’s a big number. As a result, no matter how many times we’ve been down this road, we need to engage it, interact with it and wrestle through how to more faithfully represent Christ.

Hypocrisy is being two-faced, saying one thing and doing another. So, the short answer to the question of whether or not Christians are hypocrities is, “Well, yes, of course they are.” The path of sanctification is the path of being made more into the image of Jesus each day. We’re not done yet. In the words of the song I learned as a kid,

He’s still working on me to make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be, He’s still working on me.

Until Christ comes again, we will be unfinished products, still occasionally doing something that contrasts what we say we believe. But Jesus is still working on each of us. Hopefully we will do less and less as time goes on that contrasts what we believe, but we won’t be finished until that glorious day.

Unfortunately, too many Christians aren’t growing and too many Christians look just like the rest of the world. Kinnaman reports that 84% of his sample know a Christian personally, but only 15% stated that they saw a lifestyle difference between the Christians they are know and the rest of the world. Christians curse less (26% to 38%), but view engage in sexually inappropriate behavior at almost the same rate (30% to 35%). As Kinnaman states, “If these groups of people [Christians and non-Christians] were in two separate rooms, and you were asked to determine, based on their lifestyles alone, which room contained the Christians, you would be hard-pressed to find much difference” (p. 47).

It’s unfortunate. It’s sad. But the shoe fits. That’s not the whole story as it pertains to hypocrisy. We’ll get there. But the first challenge for all of us, myself included, is to look and see where my lifestyle looks more like the world and less like Christ. From there, let us go and ask the Spirit to transform us from glory to glory.

Interact: How can Christian leaders model their own sanctification as a way to encourage those who follow them that together, they may all become less hypocritical?


7 Responses

  1. Nice post, Steve.

    Question: how can Christian leaders model their own sanctification to encourage those who follow (etc.)?

    We hypocrits are in “the now and the not yet” — bound to make mistakes. Doesn’t 1 John 1:9 bring life to all the the “dead horses” in our lives?

    I wonder how our lifestyle choices would change and how differently the world would see The Church if we consistently admitted our hypocracy to one another?

    I can hardly wait to read your next post!

  2. I agree so much with what this is saying. So many Christians push the gospel on non christians in the verbal form and forget that God created us to be in relationships with Him and with those around us and if we just lived Christ in our lives more the Gospel would be accepted so much more often. We become so easily judgemental which in turn makes us more Hypocritical. We choose what we think are the “bad” sins and focaus on pointing those out in others instead of working on our sins and living Christ in our lives.

  3. This is a great post. And I also agree.
    Question: how can Christian leaders model their own sanctification to encourage those who follow (etc.)?

    One lesson for me is being reminded what to do — not “if” I fail or “if” I sin, but rather “when” I sin.
    How do humble myself at the foot of the cross?
    How do I seek God’s provision for His forgiveness of my sin?
    How do I then turn to those who I have affected or sinned against and seek reconciliation with them by confessing it and ammending my relationships with them?
    And by doing so, practically living out the Gospel in my relationships inside and outside of the Church.

  4. Karen, I know you have cheated a little by reading unChristian! But yes, it’s not just that we fail. We are already saved, but not yet made perfect as you pointed out. The problem comes when we fail to do what we say and condemn others for failing to do what we say.

  5. […] Part 2 – A look at Matthew 23 In part 1 we saw the perception the world has of us: we are hypocrites. Before we can consider how to reframe […]

  6. Since I only read half of unChristian, does that make me less of a cheater? 🙂

    I appreciate your clarification,Steve; Carol and Deb’s posts as well.

    Christ’s words in Matthew 7 became very clear to me when I was going through “Young Peacemakers” with my kids. At the study on the idol of judging others, there was a picture of me, the hypocrite, with a 2’x4’x8′ coming out of my eyeball. Each time I would turn to judge someone, I would whomp them upside the head with my plank. This picture was an eye-opener for me (pun intended.)

    2 Peter 3:18

  7. Hey Karen, don’t feel too bad about the ‘cheating’ thing. I’m a semi-cheater too – about 1/2 way thru unChristian at the present time.

    Haven’t done the “Young Peacemakers” book, but when we had the Peacemaking Women’s conference at the church a few years ago, it was very eye-opening for me, in the same way that you described it (puns and all). Often I find that how I judge the sins of others is a reflection of my own heart condition. I have the tendency to deflect my own guilt by judging them so that I don’t have to think about or confess my own sin.
    Sounds like we’re on a similar journey. I’m looking forward to more of Steve’s posts.

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