I was about 10 years old when I told my father my best friend’s family had invited me to go with them to church. I was so excited! I had never been to church. I didn’t know what church was but I was curious and I told them I would ask my Dad if I could go.
When I asked him all he said was the church was full of hypocrites and he wouldn’t allow me to go. I asked what a hypocrite was? I won’t go into his uncomfortable and colorful detail but I walked away feeling discouraged and sad. My friend and her family seemed like such nice people, how could they be what my father said they were?
Since then I’ve met many people who say the same thing. “I wouldn’t be caught dead in a church, only hypocrites go to church.” “I’ve tried church, it isn’t for me, there are too many hypocrites.”
Were the various people who had a part in leading me to Jesus also hypocrites? Maybe some. Let me be the first to admit, I’ve been a hypocrite too. There are many things I wish I could undo or unsay. God knows each one.
I don’t always live up to what is expected of me by Christians or those who point fingers at those of us trying to get it right.
There are hypocrites on both sides of a church door; those who go in and those who stay out. I am one of them. But, I am trying each and every day to do and be better.
Looking back on those who taught me about Jesus I remember them admitting they were sinners, yet sinners saved by the grace of God. That, and telling me how much God loved me, and wanted to have a relationship with me, brought the peace I needed to move forward into walking through a church door. I’m so glad I did. Had I listened to my father and stayed away from church, where would I be now? I shutter to imagine.
Have I encountered hypocrites? Yes. There will always be those who think they are better than anyone else, Christian or not. But I have also encountered some of the most amazing people I have ever met. I refuse to let those who insist on pointing fingers, or figuratively throwing the bible at others, keep me from the overwhelming joy of the incredible fellowship with my brothers and sisters who are trying, along with me, to get it right. And, for those who keep me accountable, I am forever in your debt. Without you, I would be a different me. Thank you for loving me enough to tell me the truth when I need to hear it.
My father blamed others for keeping him and his family from learning about and loving our amazing Creator. Or was that just an excuse? Do people use the hypocrite line as a scapegoat? I think many do. It’s easy to throw others under the bus for our bad choices. Truth be told, my father just didn’t want to be accountable to anyone, especially God.
There are those who have been wounded by church people, as have I. I do not discount their pain. Let us not, however, lump all Christians into the same category. For every one person calling themselves a Christian then acting otherwise, there are two or more doing their utmost to remain humble and share the love of Jesus. That doesn’t make them perfect, just filled with love and grace.
If you are a sinner proudly telling people you are now saved by grace, awesome! If, however, you have forgotten the saved by grace part and now see others as sinners, but not yourself, I ask you to reconsider how you share the gospel. In other words, is Jesus proud of your witness? If not, ask Him to help. When we come before Him in humility, confessing our transgressions, He, without a doubt, will lead us on a better path.
If you are someone who has decided God is not worth pursuing because of some who shed a negative light on Him, I ask you to reconsider too. A relationship with God is personal. It doesn’t have anything to do with another human being. Had I let other, less than godly or Pharisee type, people (hypocrites) keep me from the most amazing relationship of my life, I know not where I’d be today. Once again, I shudder to imagine.
Wherever you fall in this, I pray each and every day is a new experience that leads you closer to the One who loves us more than we can ever imagine.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in
Christ also has forgiven you.
If you have any thoughts on this subject, I’d love to hear them.
In His embrace,