Monday, May 16, 2011

Hypocritical Christianity

Did you know that it is impossible for a Christian to be a hypocrite?

One of the biggest complaints I hear from my non-Christian friends about Christians is that they perceive the Christian life to be extremely hypocritical. What we as Christians say and what we as Christians do seem to be so dramatically dissimilar that we come across to the world as, at best, phonies and, at worst, clinically insane.

Why as Christians are we so quick to get into the historical debates about the atrocities of the Crusades, the horrific sexual crimes, polygamy, etc. instead of simply preaching the very thing that makes us “Christian?”

Is it, perhaps, that we don’t know what makes us Christian?

I’ll give you all a hint. It’s Christ.

Christ makes us Christian. More specifically, Jesus Christ’s grace and love and salvation in Him and through Him makes us Christian.

So, what?

Well, if you leave Jesus out of the conversation it’s very easy to spiral into the historical and societal arguments and semantics. What if instead of trying to refute every single atrocity done by his followers (from gossip to the slaughter of innocent lives) we simply preached the Good News?

It is impossible by nature for Christians to be hypocritical because we shouldn’t be trying to be perfect or even good all the time (ergo seeming to fall short when we are not perfect). That’s impossible. That’s why we need Jesus.

We as humans are sinful by nature. We gossip. We lie. We lie to cover up lies. We are basically a big hot mess.

Being a Christian doesn’t mean we don’t sin. Being a Christian means that we sin so much that we need Jesus. If we could live the perfect sinless life and waltz into heaven we wouldn’t need a Savior, a free pass, forgiveness, or salvation. We could do it ourselves!

Now, I believe in being good because the Bible says that if you follow the Bible (be a good person, etc.) it will make your life on Earth much more pleasant. And it will. So, I’m not saying stop being good.

Instead, we need to be more honest about what a Christian life looks like. The reality is that a Christian life looks exactly like a non-Christian life in many ways. We lose our cool at the grocery store when our kids throw a fit, we cuss when we stub our toes (even if it’s just in our head), we feel guilt and shame and loss and pain and hurt and agony.

If we were just to embrace this aspect of being ourselves instead of pretending we are some sort of impervious-to-hurt-and-failure-always-smiley-Ned Flanders type of person maybe people wouldn’t see us as so hypocritical. Just maybe.

And just maybe if we could get past this perceived “barrier to entry” (sorry, past economics classes coming out) into the Kingdom of Heaven we could get to the really good stuff like salvation and grace and hope and love and passion and fellowship.

Christians, don’t be afraid to admit your failures. It’s in these failures that you have been saved and that God has called you by name. Hard truth: your friends do not need another role model (at least not in you). Your friends need to see you as approachable and human (i.e. with faults).

Non-Christians, I would just encourage you to lay down your swords when discussing religion with Christians. I get really flustered because my convictions don’t make sense to you. And I KNOW they don’t make sense to you. And I KNOW I sound like a lunatic. You retained WAY more from history class than I did, have read way more Times Magazines than I have, you finished your college degree, and your parents were friends with Gandhi. If you let me talk more about Jesus and less about me/my beliefs I’ll start to make more sense. I promise.

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