A Hypocritical Christian?

What does your life (actions/words/choices) say about your beliefs?

I’ve been wrestling with this question for a few weeks now.  Sure, many of us would say that we base our actions, words, and choices on our belief in God and what we read/study in the Bible. As Christians we seek to follow what the Bible lays out.  Fair enough.

But when do we become hypocritical in our beliefs and our walk as Christians?

This isn’t as negative statement as it sounds…simply, how far do we go to actually live out the life that Jesus lived- and at what point do we say- “That’s a really awesome way of life, but I’m not there yet?”  We all do this to one degree or another.  I certainly do this (so if you think I’m finger pointing- I’m pointing at me here!).  Here is some examples…

The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5):  In this passage we find some kingdom ethics or praxis.  Here are some examples:

  • (5:21)While the Torah says “do not murder,” Jesus says that anyone who gets angry at a brother or sister will face judgement.  How do we do with our anger towards other? Do we seek forgiveness and reconcilliation?
  • (5:27) You’ve heard it said, “Do not commit adultery”, but Jesus says that when we look at another person lustfully, that we commit adultery in our hearts.  How do we do with what we put before our eyes? 
  • (5:38) “You’ve heard it said, “eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.”  Jesus says that when someone strikes us, that we should turn the other cheek.  This is passivity- it’s nonviolent resistance. Are we (Am I) are quick to embrace violence rather than finding nonviolent alternatives to our problems? (I could (and may) go into a longer post on what I think are some of Jesus’ ethics regarding nonviolence and peace as a way for Christians to seek to live.  It’s fascinating stuff- starting with this verse!) Some of this is most recently seen in Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. and the ways in which they brought about change without using violence.
  • (5:43) “You have heard it said ‘love your neighbors and hate your enemies,” but Jesus says- “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  Wow.  I once heard that we pray for our enemies not because it necessarily changes the enemy (although it can), but because we are changed when we pray for those who come against us.  We begin to see them not as subhuman, but as people who are lost and hurting.  

I could go on with the Rich Young Ruler (Sell all you have and give to the poor) and other teachings of Jesus.

I’ve been wrestling with this because I believe that Jesus came not just to show us the way to eternal life with God- but that Jesus came to show us how to live right now.  When we live according to Jesus’ example, the Kingdom of God is revealed here on earth as it is in heaven.  It may only be a short glimpse, but that glimpse can begin to change lives.  This glimpse of the kingdom can bring reconciliation between sworn enemies. It can bring together families who have been broken.  It can restore marriages.  It can heal racial and ethnic tensions and bigotry.  Does this sound idealistic? Only because it is so foreign in our day and time. 

Check out this passage from 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 We have a ministry, as Christians, to bring people to a place of reconciling with God and with our neighbors.  We do this by living as Jesus lived.  By taking seriously his teachings and example.  When we do this, change can begin to take place in our families, communities, and the world.

So where does your hypocrisy kick in?  It’s ok to admit it- in fact, we probably need to do some confession in our churches and ‘fess up to our hypocrisy.  Let’s face it- churches are full of hypocrites, and I am one of them.  Churches are for hypocrites.  The hope is that in the context of community that we will become less and less hypocritical and more like Jesus.

Feedback:  What is a saying or teaching of Jesus that you have a hard time embracing? Use the comments for some discussion!

About Steve LaMotte

Husband of Andrea and father of four amazing children. Pastor at Avenue United Methodist Church in Milford, Delaware.
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1 Response to A Hypocritical Christian?

  1. Daniel says:

    Good stuff, Steve. Reminds me of a quote from C.S. Lewis, when he was commenting on having been asked if he liked the Sermon on the Mount. He said something like, “Like it? I don't know how anyone could like that any more than I like getting hit in the face with a sledgehammer.” It certainly isn't fun to have our lack of belief in what Jesus taught brought to light.

    Have you read The Divine Conspiracy? Forever shaped how I read Matthew 5-7. And The Good and Beautiful Life is based on a lot of what is said there- the best thing I know of for helping people close that gap between saying we believe what the Sermon says and actually showing the belief with our lives.

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