This is a continuation in the series “What Are You Afraid Of?” based on a discussion I had with a friend over dinner who said she was afraid I would try to convert her to Christianity. One of the things she said was that Christians are hypocrites.
When I left my law firm several months back, I had conversations with as many people as I could who I had come to know to tell them I was leaving. I took the opportunity to describe that I would be going into Christian ministry. One of the men I told responded by recalling a lawyer he knew who was a “Christian lawyer” and the most difficult lawyer he had ever dealt with because he lied frequently and was belligerent. At some point, he also mentioned the “Christian politicians” we hear about in the news. His point was that the Christians he knows or has been exposed to are hypocrites. They claim to be holy and righteous, but their actions demonstrate the opposite. This leads, I think, to the conclusion that if Christians are this way, who wants to be one?
I remember feeling heartbroken about his perspective of Christians. How often I had had this same view. I remember becoming very aware about what a heavy thing it is to be called a Christian, one who carries the very name of Christ in your identity. From a linguistic standpoint, when you describe yourself as a Christian, you are saying you belong to Christ. The “-ian” means “belonging to.” And “belong to” means to be the property of, to be a part of or adjunct to, and to adhere to. In Romans, Paul describes himself as “a servant of Christ Jesus” and describes the gospel as a call to “belong to Jesus Christ” (Romans 1) and to be declared righteous in God’s sight based not on anything we do, but based on faith in Jesus who is righteous and holy and whose actions bear this out perfectly (Romans 3).
I respond to the assertion that Christians are hypocrites this way: First, I acknowledge the truth of it, at least in my life. I belong to Jesus Christ. My actions do not always demonstrate this. I say God loves me, but I often act like he doesn’t. I say there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, but you should hear the things I believe about myself sometimes. I say I trust God and there is no reason to worry or fear. I worry. I fear. Second, I am clear that I carry Jesus’ name in my identity not because of my own holiness and righteousness, but because of his. Third, I do not share my opinion as to whether someone else is a true Christian or not. Fourth, I continue to ask God to, as he has promised, transform me into the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18) and help me be like Jesus in this world (1 John 4:17). I remind myself that I am a follower of Christ, not a follower of Christians.
How do you respond to the assertion that Christians are hypocrites?