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.