Why Should I Become a Christian? The Worst Hypocrites Are in Church.Reading Time: 3 minutes
One major excuse that people use in their refusal to embrace Christianity concerns hypocrites in the church, both past and present. People like to point to past misdeeds done in the name of Christ, such as the Spanish Inquisition, witch trials and other horrible acts.
Then, there are the present-day examples of preachers, deacons, or church leaders who have been caught in alcoholism, adulterous relationships or some other inconsistency with what they say they believe. This type of behavior has led many to say, “If that’s what Christianity is all about, then I don’t want any part of it.”
It must be admitted that there has been hypocrisy in the church, and today we are not exempt from people who are hypocritical. A hypocrite is an actor, one who puts on a false face. He says one thing but does another. However, just because the church contains hypocrites does not mean that all Christians are hypocrites. With every example of hypocrisy that can be pointed to in the church, a counter example can be pointed out showing people who are living consistently with the teaching of Jesus Christ.
It is important not to confuse hypocrisy with sin. All Christians are sinners, but not all Christians are hypocrites. There is a misconception that a Christian is a person who claims that he does not sin, but the truth is that to call oneself a Christian is to admit to being a sinner (1 John 1:5—2:2). All believers, including the clergy, are fallible human beings who are prone to all types of sin. Just because a person is not perfect does not mean that he is a phony. The distinction between the two is important. The failures of the believers do not invalidate the truth. Jesus Christ had very harsh words for people who were committing the sin of hypocrisy, especially the religious leaders of his day. He denounced them in no uncertain terms.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” (Matthew 23:15, NIV).
People can and do enter the ministry for the wrong reasons, or they can compromise the convictions of the faith. When people do this they are wrong, and the Bible denounces this clearly. Christianity does not stand or fall on the way Christians have acted throughout history or are acting today. Christianity stands or falls on the person of Jesus, and Jesus was not a hypocrite. He lived consistently with what He taught, and at the end of His life He challenged those who had lived with Him night and day, for over three years, to point out any hypocrisy in Him. His disciples were silent because there was none. Since Christianity depends on Jesus, it is incorrect to try to invalidate the Christian faith by pointing to horrible things done in the name of Christianity.
The non-believer cannot be excused from believing just because it is possible to point to those who simply pretend to be what they are not. Hypocritical Christians cannot be excused on the basis of not being perfect because of the terrible effects hypocrisy has.
Let’s look at one illustration of the reasoning involved in this question. For example, let’s say the president of a large car company is always advertising and telling his friends that a certain make of car in his company is the best in the country and the only car we should be driving. In fact, a number of automotive magazines and consumer groups have backed up some of his claims. But yet, when you see this man, he is driving the competition’s leading model! (Perhaps he likes their colors better.) You say, what a hypocrite! If he believed all that stuff about his car, and he’s in a position to know, then he’d be driving one. That is probably true. Yet his being a hypocrite does not invalidate the claim that his car may be the best one in the country.
The same is true of Christianity. People may claim it’s true, yet have lives inconsistent with their claim, but this does not necessarily mean Christianity is not true.