You may have heard this question before. It is a pretty common complaint among non-believers and may have even been used as a reason for why they won’t listen to Christians. So why are Christians hypocrites? Is it on purpose? Is it simply an accident?
Why are Christians hypocrites? In a word, self–or pride, or ego, or hubris. The idea that Christians are hypocrites, whether voiced by atheists, agnostics, or Christians like Rappers Lecrae, Derek Minor, and Tedashii, is a prevalent one. It keeps countless people from ever stepping inside of a church, or opening their minds and hearts to Jesus. The worst part of the connotation of Christian meaning hypocrite is that too many times it is a true statement.
Too many Christians are still worried about themselves, their self image and their self worth, that they forget what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12. The slightest offense of this is a Christian faking a smile and telling everyone that they are doing great on Sunday morning, when they are far from it. We justify this by telling ourselves that no one wants to hear about our problems, but what’s it show the rest of the world when the church pretends that it doesn’t have any problems?
When people that need Jesus do visit a church, too often their experience is Christians pretending everything is copacetic, when they know it isn’t. Sometimes they see a familiar face from the club or party they were at earlier that weekend. Sometimes they just feel that the environment is fraudulent, seemingly too perfect to be true. Think about how most people hate the smell of a hospital because it reminds them of sickness, when in reality the smell of a hospital is usually an overuse of disinfectants and cleaning chemicals. The intention is to sanitize the area for those not sick so that they can tend to those who are, the connotation is contradictory to that intent.
My pastor has often equated the church with a hospital, that we as Christians shouldn’t pass any judgment onto people that need Christ’s love, that instead we should show them that love. The worst of the offense, and maybe the reason so often we as Christians put on that fake smile, is the willingness of some Christians to judge anyone who is not them. People that eschew church aren’t the only ones that see hypocrisy, in fact Christians inside of church have even more exposure to the hypocrisy that plagues Christianity.
In Derek Minor’s song “Dr. Mr. Christian,” featured fellow Christian rapper Lecrae sings:
“And amidst these amens, hallelujahs, and shuckin’ jivin’
I see a lot of hypocrites and hyper-criticizing
I don’t need to be judged by you and all of your wack friends
Ain’t gluttony a sin? Why you staring at my gin?
Where I’m from we don’t pretend
We know we ain’t gettin’ in
Thought you were known for love but you just love to judge me
Truth is, ironically you need me around though
‘Cause otherwise you got nobody else to look down on“
And in his song “Perfect,” Christian Rapper Tedashii sings:
” Watching these people saying words not true.
Accusing me, they abusing me, yeah truthfully
I don’t have the time to be worried about you man.”
These Christian rappers have clearly seen hypocrisy within the church, and are trying to call it out. Going back to the metaphor of a hospital, you can only treat an illness effectively if you’ve diagnosed it. We have diagnosed the church with having too much hypocrisy, now we need to work on fixing it from the inside.
Christians are frequently smacked with the hypocrisy stick because there are so many cases in which we Christians profess what we don’t possess.
When we look around, we see so many behaviors among the body of Christ that run counter to Christian teachings. We hold grudges. We alienate people through church politics. We build multi-million dollar church facilities while 1 in 6 Americans faces hunger. Time after time, we see parents kicking out and disowning their children when they come out as homosexual. We’ve seen numerous prominent church leaders caught (literally) with their pants down, engaging in un-Christlike behavior. We get more bummed out by our favorite TV drama characters dying than we do about Christians who get executed for their faith.
Now, it’s very easy for people of faith to brush these kinds of things off by saying excuses like, “I’m only human,” or “I can ask for forgiveness,” or even “Don’t judge me.” These are but defense mechanisms used to cast attention away from our own bad behaviors. We as human beings have a tendency to dislike having our own flaws exposed, while simultaneously having no issue pointing out the shortcomings of others.
In this way, all of us–both believer and nonbeliever alike–are hypocrites. However, Christians are called to be the exception, not the rule. It is for this reason that Christians are so much more commonly called out for their hypocrisy. Is it fair? Of course, it is. Jesus died for our sins. Trying our best to act the right way is not much to ask, and getting called names when we fall short of His glory is small potatoes.