“Too Many Hypocrites at the Ballpark, I’m Not Going”
Probably will never hear that one. This is an accusation generally only aimed toward the church. Here are a few of the best comebacks I’ve heard when someone says, “I don’t go to church, because there are too many hypocrites.”
- From my 91 year old grandmother from Grant Parish, “There’ll only be one more if you show up.”
- From Mike Miller, pastor of FBC Kenner, “What a great place for hypocrites to go, right?”
- From a church sign I saw once, “This Church is not FULL of hypocrites. We have room for a few more. Join us Sunday.”
- From another friend, “There are hypocrites at Wal-Mart, but that doesn’t keep you from going there.”
- The harshest, “I’d rather go to church with hypocrites than go to hell with them.” Ouch!
I like my grandmother’s answer myself, because it’s true. We all tend to demonstrate hypocrisy at times in our lives. It comes with being a part of the human race. Sin divides our heart, giving us a desires to please others or be pleased by things instead of pleasing and finding pleasure in God. Until we are rescued from this cycle by the power of Christ we will be powerless to take off the mask.
Here’s a few different levels of Hypocrisy. Where are you and how can you change?
1. Intentional Dishonesty. At it’s root hypocrisy is living a lie. Whether it’s being a two faced cheater or hiding what’s really on the inside or in the past just so people will like you, deceit drives hypocrisy. But some seem to do hypocrisy on purpose. Often it appears that way, because they’re caught in a way of life that causes them even to believe the lies.
2. Best Intentions. Most of us are not intentional hypocrites, but we just don’t live how we intended to live. Researchers call this the Halo Effect. We often give ourselves credit for what we intended to do, even if we didn’t do it. Example – Every year around 60% of people tell pollsters that they voted, but the actual voting roles usually show that around 40% actually do. The other 20% intended to, and gave themselves credit. Church attenders do this often. As a pastor I occasionally meet people who say they attend my church when they never have. What they mean is, they feel a connection with our style or location, and if they ever do go to church they intend on going there, so they give themselves credit. Is that not hypocritical?
Best intention hypocrites live with a gap between what we say we believe and even what we want and how we actually live day to day. Do you find yourself saying things like this?
- “I know what I should be doing, BUT…”
- “I know what the Bible says, BUT…”
- “I know what God wants me to do, BUT…”
You’re revealing the gap between what you know to be right and where you’re actually living at the moment. Thus you are a HYPOCRITE.
3. Fear of Man / People Pleasing. Then there is the people pleaser. The chameleon. The person that lives their lives one way in front of one group and another in front of the next group. He/she is double-minded and thus unstable. This was Peter’s story as told by Paul in Galatians 2:14. Peter found freedom from the law in Christ, began partaking with the gentiles of food traditionally considered unclean for the Jews. However, when Jewish leaders who believed that you had to accept Jesus AND keep the law showed up he did as they would have wanted. Why? Because he was afraid of what they might think of him (Galatians 2:12).
4. Bondage. However you define it and whatever it looks like, the truth is, the hypocrite is in bondage. Afraid someone may find out who you really are or who you’re really not, frustrated with why you just can’t live by your best intentions, tired of hiding. Hypocrisy enslaves.
My hypocrisy will keep others in bondage as well. The often quoted words of Ghandi in reference to Christianity are so pertinent: “If Christians lived by the teaching of Christ, all of India would be Christian.” Another friend of mine said it like this, “If it weren’t for Christians, there’d be more of us.”
Psalm 86:11 is a prayer I pray often, “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; UNITE MY HEART to fear Your name.” I don’t want to have a divided heart, living one way in front of certain people and another way later.
I don’t want to always be saying what I believe but failing to live up to it. To overcome my hypocrisy, I need a power outside of myself. The gospel of Jesus Christ brings real change and can turn my many faces into one.
So asked yourself:
- If I really lived like I say I believe, how would my life be different?
- If I closed the gap between what I know and say and what I actually do, how would my life and the lives of others change?
- If I were to really get honest about my life, can I say that I am free from what others think of me? from personal preference? from prejudice?
Next week at Bridge Church we’ll turn to another vice that tends to enslave when we discuss being Set Free from Legalism.