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Hypocrisy Isn’t the Point

November 21, 2013

I’ve talked to quite a lot of different kinds of people in the two years I’ve been in Milford. Recently I met a man who actually used that old argument against Christianity: There are so many hypocrites in church.

Now, that may very well be true; but what did he actually mean? People who go to church even though they don’t believe in the gospel? Maybe, but why would that bother somebody who didn’t believe themselves? Or is it the old behaviour chestnut: if you don’t behave like a “Christian”, you can’t call yourself a Christian?

If so, that’s a serious misunderstanding of the Gospel, and of the whole point of being a Christian. Lots of Christians can’t live up to their own high standards, never mind God’s. No, let me change that: no Christian can live up to God’s standards. I can’t, you can’t – nobody can.

Let’s imagine two people in church, both struggling with the same besetting sin (make it anger, alcohol, porn, gambling, gossip, stinginess – whatever). One shrugs it off, saying “no big deal, nobody’s perfect, I’m not the only one”. The other one is mortified by their behaviour, and goes on their knees before God in repentance every single time they fail. One of them is a hypocrite, the other one isn’t. But can you tell the difference just by looking at them?

That’s why Jesus says “Do not judge”. He doesn’t mean “sin doesn’t matter”; he means “only God sees the full picture”. There may well be hypocrites in church; but God is actually the only one who knows who they are.

The truth of the Gospel doesn’t depend on the lifestyle of its professed followers. It only depends on whether Jesus is who he says he is and did what he says he did. Did he pay the price for my sins on the cross? Did he rise from the dead? Is he the only way to know God? If so, that remains the truth, regardless of what Christians say and do. As Richard Dawkins said in a tweet back in March:

The question is not “How many millions believe it?” Nor “Did Isaac Newton believe it?” But “Is it TRUE?”

I couldn’t agree more! And if Christianity is true, as the empty tomb should have made clear, no amount of hypocrites should stop you from following Jesus!


From → Christianity, Faith, Jesus

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