- Religion and Philosophy
Hypocrisy in the Church
Hypocrisy in the Church
Christianity is one of the largest religions in the world. Is the church is full of hypocrites? Definitely not. But a huge percentage of Christians are hypocrites. That is a fact. People who profess but don't possess. People who claim to believe in the teachings of the Bible but cannot stand up for them in the society. The church is awash with hypocrisy. In fact, it has always been there. Liars, defaulters, cheaters and many more. You can barely go a week before seeing news of a pastor caught in some form of adulterous relationship. So widespread is the hypocrisy that its one of the reasons people don't want to be a part of Christianity.
"I don't want to go to Church because it's full of Hypocrites"
"How can I be a Christian when they are such hypocrites?!"
First, this is just the pot calling the kettle black. You're busy pointing fingers at the church yet you are far from perfect yourself. In effect, you yourself are being a hypocrite.
Matthew 7:3-5 (NIV) - "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."
Jesus told it like it is. People are so set out on criticising others while they are yet to examine their lives. This works both ways-for those condemning Christians and those hypocritical Christians judging those around them.
Next, the fact that there is hypocrisy in Church doesn't mean that it’s condoned. God fully expresses His distaste for hypocrisy in those claiming to worship Him.
Isa 1:14-15 (GLT) My soul hates your new moons and your appointed feasts. They are a burden to Me. I am weary of bearing them. And when you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you. Yea, when you multiply prayer, I will not hear...
Mat 23:23-28 (NIV) "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness."
Luke 12:1 (NAS)-"Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."
1 Pet 2:1 (NIV)-Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.
Let's define it linguistically. Going by the Oxford English Dictionary definition, it is "The assuming of a false appearance of virtue or goodness, with dissimulation of real character or inclinations, esp. in respect of religious life or beliefs; hence in general sense, dissimulation, pretence, sham. Also, an instance of this."
What of the hypocrite? The same dictionary defines a hypocrite as "One who falsely professes to be virtuously or religiously inclined; one who pretends to have feelings or beliefs of a higher order than his real ones; hence generally, a dissembler, pretender."
So, basically, a hypocrite preaches and claims to uphold one thing, but does another. A promiscuous elder teaching the youth about faithfulness. A parent admonishing the evils of alcoholism to the child while taking a beer. A politician vowing to fight corruption but bribes the voters to get into office.
Fake Worship vs True Worship
The praise and worship in hundreds of churches is so hollow, empty and lacking life. The solution we're given: "Sing like you mean it!" This is a perfect example of hypocrisy in the church. The drive for strong praise and worship sessions in many churches is to show how active they are, to show how great the church is. In the process, people lose focus on what the purpose of praising and worshiping God is-to thank and exalt Him, to plead with and beseech Him.....not to increase the popularity of your church or show off what you can do. Praise and worship is not meant to impress your fellow man but to address God on High.
What does God say about such?
Amos 5:21-24 (NIV) - "I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!"
God does not tell you to look good. He tells you to BE good. The same goes for fake sermons, prayers, and fake healing, prophesies and testimonies, and works of service and hollow gifts.
Isa 1:14-15 (GLT)-"My soul hates your new moons and your appointed feasts. They are a burden to Me. I am weary of bearing them. And when you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you. Yea, when you multiply prayer, I will not hear"
True worship is done in Truth and in Spirit. It's aimed at pleasing God.
Ps 51:6 (NIV) - "Surely you desire truth in the inner parts..."
John 4:23-24 (Wey) -"But a time is coming--nay, has already come--when the true worshippers will worship the Father with true spiritual worship; for indeed the Father desires such worshippers. God is Spirit; and those who worship Him must bring Him true spiritual worship."
Being a Christian does not mean you're Perfect
Far from it. Everyone lies, steals, lusts and all. Being a Christian does not mean you've never done these. Churches are full of people struggling with various sins. The notion that a Christian is a person who claims he does not sin is wrong.
Read 1 John 1:5—2:2
On the contrary, by calling yourself a Christian, you have to admit to being a sinner.
In addition, all believers are prone to all types of sin. The fact that they may at times fall into temptation does not make them phonies. Then again, there are those who deliberately sin but hide under the veil of Christianity.
The failure of a believer does not invalidate the Truth.
God sees into the hearts of men.
1 Sam 16:7(NIV) - "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
Matthew 23:15, KJV- “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves”.
This points out two crucial facts:
- Non-believers are not excused from believing just because they can point out pretentious believers.
- Hypocritical Christians cannot justify their hypocrisy on the pretext of 'not being perfect'.
Christianity is Based on Christ, not Christians
Christianity does not rely on how Christians have acted throughout history. It is based on the teachings and life of Jesus Christ. And He was no hypocrite. He lived how He taught. He led by example. No one can find fault in Christ, and everyone exalts His high moral standards.
The reason why hypocrisy is so evident in the church is because the standard against which Christians are measured is Christ Himself. This does not mean that all Christians are hypocrites.
In fact, there are thousands, nay, millions of true Christians in the world today. There are numerous throughout the history of the church. Their selflessness and courage, moral actions and reforms have had a great impact on the world. These are sincere Christians who have been transformed by Christ's resurrection and the Holy Spirit carries out works through them.
A Christian professing love, kindness being gracious but acts selfishly is tantamount to being hypocritical. You cannot believe in Christ sacrifice on the cross and remain selfish and cowardly. There are those who believe that is they are truthful about themselves and what they have been through in life, God's glory will be tainted. This is far from true. In fact, 2 Cor 12:9 Paul talks about how boasting in his weakness makes Christ's power more perfect.
Romans 3:23-24 "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus".
As Christians, we need to repent and admit our failures, and strive to lead our life as Christ would. None of us is perfect. We are dependent on Christ from redemption and salvation, to our spiritual growth.
Christians should not act hypocritically in any means whatsoever. They should hold firm on their beliefs and be an example to those around them. As a Christian, a non-believer should see God through you. Living for God is in itself a means of preaching the gospel and spreading the message.
For the critics castigating Christianity for the hypocrisy in it, you should understand that Christianity in centred on Christ, and not in the actions of believers. Jesus Christ is the measure you should focus on. Do not let the waywardness of hypocritical believers dissuade you.
At the end of the day, it's your personal relationship with God that matters. THAT should be your point of concern.