I have had this thought musing around in my head for quite sometime. I will try and set up a scene for you so you can have some clue as to what sparked my thoughts.

Often I have had conversations with people who become very “interested” when they find out that I call myself a Christian. This can be with people who profess themselves Christian but don’t attend church or with those that would not ever choose to set foot in a place that uses the name Church. The conversation can be pleasant and polite but it has also been hostile. One thing that I have heard repeatedly in various ways is that they would not go to a church because it is so full of hypocrites.

This is true, and I don’t find it a sad thing. In the past I would agree, have found it sad, and likely have made a comment that a church is a collection of sinners whom gather together for the sole purpose of trying to do better together and that I expect that sinners have their faults hence the need to meet as a church body.

I have had some situations recently that have caused me to have a different opinion. I am only beginning to change my understanding of myself the hypocrite and my fellow hypocrites and these are not full well rounded thoughts here. I’d value your comments.

Recently I was having a conversation with my sister-in-law whom is very dear to me. She and I have shared together many, many things and have grown in our relationship over 10 years now! Anyways, in our conversation recently, things were discussed that were never talked about before. I had my reasons for not telling her certain things. Some were not my things to tell. I had confidential information that was not my right to share. Or, when we were discussing this conversation at an earlier date, I really didn’t think I should share the information I could because I felt that it would have swung the conversation and I would have selfishly turned the conversation to me and my agenda. Other times, I knew something mildly relevant but didn’t share it for whatever reason. I’m sure there have been occasions I should have shared something but didn’t because I forgot. Whatever the reason, there were times where I deliberately or accidentally held back information and if you want to be exact I was acting like a hypocrite.

Another thing that changed my perspective. I am a member of a Book Club. I am the youngest member. I enjoy being the young spark, especially since there are getting to be enough people to point out that I am not as young as I was even though I kindly try to show them that I am just as foolish as they!

Anyways, we were discussing a novel recently and someone remarked how hypocritical a certain character was towards another character. However, it was one of those situations where we, as the reader, knew information that neither of the characters would know and that the hypocritical character was, in my opinion, acting out of ignorance. For awhile we tossed around the label of hypocrite. I’d like to say we all came to the same conclusion, but we didn’t. Either way, it struck me that what is definitive hypocrisy to one person is perhaps something else, say mis-judgement, in another person’s eyes.

So to me, I find that this arguement about churches being full of hypocrites valid, but I think not accurate. I think for a stranger walking in the door it is possible to look around and see much that appears false and therefore proof that this particular church isn’t the Church. I am not too sure what I would label this arguement. I am leaning towards calling it an excuse.

To me, these individuals that often bring up this as their reason for not attending church use it as an excuse to validate why they do not have to attend church on a regular basis.

I realize there is much risk in posting an article of this nature. It was not written with any purpose in mind except hoping to spark some conversation and to further a discussion that I have been having internally for about 2 weeks now. I find myself a witty conversationalist but have managed to become quite dull. Also, I’d like to find someone else to discuss this with as I’ve thought about this so many times in the shower that I am becoming a little reduntant in my internal dialogue and need some other perspective.

If I have offended, you have my sincere appologies.

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7 Responses to Hypocritical

  1. lovingewe says:

    Roberta I believe that to belong to a “Church” one must be an attending member. Hebrews 10:24,25. states” And let us consider one another to incite to love and find works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together as some have the custom but encouraging one another and all the more so as You behold the day drawing near” Therefore we are encouraged to meet to lift each other up. I could never understand how some can sit and watch a TV Evangilist and feel uplifted and part of a “congregation” when all you did was listen to a TV personality and never get to know the congregation.

    However we are all ‘sinners’ and inperfect, so when an outsider looks in it is a visual thing and not the inclination of the heart. Only God can see that and judge a person.

    We as humans too often judge based on our likes and dislikes. We are judgemental and yet we are imperfect. How can one person really personally love everyone in the congregation. Our personalities will clash. But you will always ( hopefully) have love for the members of your congregation. Matt 22:37-40
    He said to them ( Jesus):”You must love your God with your whole heart and with your soul and with your whole mind. ‘This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it,is this ‘You must love your neighbours as yourself’ On these two commandments the whole Law hangs and the Prophets”

    Easy to do? Not always- we are imperfect!!!
    I find that trying to think ” what would Jesus do in this situation” helps.

    I also find that really trying to get to know the members of your congregation, really get to know them, there past, likes, dislikes etc. You really get a feel for who they are and why they are the way they are.

    probably have more to say but will leave open to others.

  2. Sheri says:

    Roberta, I completely agree with you that there are hypocrites in the church body and plenty of them. Jesus was fully aware and talks about it in His parable of the wheat and the tares. Hypocrites in the church can be destructive to the church family and can be a hinderance in growth. It doesn’t take a believer to see a hypocrite. Unbelievers watch believers/professing Christians and they are indeed scrutinizing us for our faults. Do you think our neighbors don’t notice when we skip a Sunday morning and cut the grass instead? That is only an example, but you bet they do. Watch the media pounce and trump up any story that concerns a Christian leader doing something they ought not be doing.
    Unfortunately so, but yes, I think it is an easy excuse for a weak Christian or an unbeliever to use to keep from attending church or getting to know God.
    When you talk to these folks, I think it is important to be honest with them and say “yes, there are too many hypocrites in the church” and not everyone sitting in the church pew is a Christian either.
    When looking at hypocrisy, it is important for us as Christians to look at it from a biblical point of view. I can imagine that people I knew in my younger, wilder days would think me a hypocrite today. Not because I am doing the same things now, but because I once did those things. But that is not being hypocritcal….that is a changed life.

  3. Bekki says:

    You bring up some interesting points. I’ll sleep on this and come back with something maybe remotely intelligent to say once I have rested my poor addled brain.

  4. Elaine says:

    Interesting topic. My dad is one of those who complain about the hyprocrites w/in the Church. It is sad that so many use this excuse to keep from getting to know Jesus and His family.

    I’ll come back later when my brain is also capable of wrapping itself around this topic a bit more. 🙂

  5. surfette says:

    I approach the subject of hypocrisy in much the same way that you do. I think that often times, people use hypocrisy in the church as an excuse not to attend.

    But something else to consider (possibly) is that fact that everyone is grasping desperately (as I see it) to ‘look up’ to someone. Perhaps that person is all prepared to follow the lead of stronger Christians and becomes disillusioned when their Christian ‘hero’ falls?

    Of course this is a blanket response and not at all and accurate portrayal of everyone — but it could be one possibility why people are so discouraged with hypocrisy in the church.

  6. sumi says:

    Interesting topic. 🙂

    I think you hit the nail on the head with saying it is an excuse.

    My take on it is that it is easier to see the speck in another’s eye and miss the log in your own. Call it human nature… if I had a mind to do it I could find something amiss in every single person in our church, including our pastor. There is only one perfect man whom we should look up to and that is Jesus.

    I have learned through the years that you can never judge someone if you haven’t walked a mile or two in their shoes…what looks like hypocracy to an outsider might just be pure brokenness.

    I think that many people who look for the hypocracy in others really show a lot of hypocracy themselves. They are not quite willing to bow the knee before God and admit their need for grace yet they judge those who do.

  7. songbirdy says:

    I have really, really enjoyed reading all the comments and thinking over them as they have come in! Thank you all for commenting and giving more thought on this!

    I think my thoughts are fairly solid now regarding this topic. I agree that to be a Christian does call for membership in a congregation. But I do accept somewhat fluid definitions for what a Congregation is, except that it is to be more than two people and that you are to be accountable to those people.

    And I do agree that it is easy to judge.

    I love Sheri’s advice on how to respond to this question, I was not sure what to say in response to a remark like this after my current thoughts and your comments did give me a ready answer.

    And I loved Sumi’s remark that hypocracy might just be pure brokeness! How true!

    I am sure so much more can be said, but I just wanted to say that I am reading and learning!

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