Saturday, February 5, 2011

Just a Bunch of Hypocrites

The other night someone told me that Christians were just a bunch of hypocrites, and I had to smile. I mean how do you respond to a statement like that?

Honestly, you don’t have to hang around us very long to know that this is a true statement. We are, and probably always will be just a bunch of hypocrites. There is a part of me that wishes that it weren’t true, that I would never be guilty of something so heinous, but when I look at my life with any amount of integrity and truth I have to admit that my hypocrisy is rank.

And once I get past my pride, I also have to admit that I am glad, relieved even, that I am a hypocrite.

Now, I know that a lot of you are wondering how in the world I could write such a thing. After all, isn’t hypocrisy what Jesus scolded the Pharisees’ for? Didn’t he have some pretty harsh things to say about being a hypocrite?

Absolutely. Jesus wasn’t a big fan of hypocrisy, and I don’t think that we should be either. But when I read those sections of the Bible where Jesus is giving them “what-for”, I don’t think is scolding them so much for being hypocrites as he is chastising them for their pride in hypocrisy. It’s a subtle but important distinction.

Hypocrisy says that I have a professed standard that is higher and greater than my actions or words uphold. It says that I claim to believe that we should live a life that is better than the one I am living. It says that I have yet to attain the ideal that I espouse, and in many ways this is an absolutely accurate representation of my life.

I want to be better than I am. I want to be more compassionate, more merciful and loving. I don’t want to be the person who screams at the driver who cut me off, or gets impatient with the checker at the grocery store. I don’t want neglect my convictions in service to my appetites. It is not who I want to be. It is not who I believe my God would have me to be.

But I also live with the troubling knowledge that I am never going to get it right, never. Oh, there will be bits and pieces of my faith that I will work out, become a little more adept at putting into practice, but there is always going to be some part of me that just never hits the mark. The standard is too high, and I am too messed up. It’s a reality that I cannot deny without massive attempts at self delusion.

My desire as a Christian is to become more like more Lord and Savior. My hope is to live a life that demonstrates his love, wisdom, and power. My goal is to allow my relationship with him to define every aspect of my existence before a watching world, but I know how impossible this goal is. I live with the reality that I will never arrive, never completely be who he desires me to be. So each success is tempered with the knowledge of my failings and how far I have yet to go.

My hypocrisy is based in my unwillingness to deny that there is standard that I should strive to reach. A standard that God declares is right and good. A standard that demands the very best that I have to offer in spite of my flaws, and it is my responsibility to live each day in an attempt to move a little closer to it. My hypocrisy is an answer to the challenge to move deeper in relationship with him, to recognize my own inability and glory in his strength and mercy. It is not pride in my accomplishments but total reliance on his and all that he has done on my behalf.

There is a peace and a singular type of joy that comes from knowing that my God is so great that I will never reach his standards of holiness. That I will never come close to matching his brilliance or perfection. It is what makes him worthy of worship, and what inspires me to seek him, to become who he would have me become.

So I try to live this life humbly aware that of my own hypocrisy, refusing to let it rob me of my right to serve my King, but as a reminder of how great a King I serve.

So the next time I hear that Christians are nothing but a bunch of hypocrites, I hope my response will be, “Yes, yes we are because our God is that great.”


Laura said...

Very thought provoking post. I will have to think some more on this. Thank you for sharing!

Dirty Butter said...

"For ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

May we always remember that and constantly listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to please God.

I follow you on ExposeYourBlog.

Andy D said...

I had never considered hypocrisy like this. I always felt that hypocrisy meant you didn't intend to do what you preached. Like your first comment, I really need to think about this.

Either way, great post! Keep it up.

Emily said...

Laura, thanks for joining us!

Andy, it is good to have you too. I think we usually make that distinction when we speak of hypocrisy, and I would hope that our intent would be to try and live out our faith. However, I wanted to distinguish between intent and the functional working of our faith.

It is my desire to encourage conversation on matters of faith, and I have found that by admitting our mistakes, instead of defending them, those who do not share my faith are more willing to engage the topic. For me to deny hypocrisy is either claim perfection in myself or neglect the greatness of my God. And people need a great God more than they need a deluded Christian. :)

This being said, I would pray that our intent is to always strive for that mark. It makes our hypocrisy a little more honest.