I was reading on the Internet today someone claiming that the rock band Radiohead are a bunch of hypocrites, because although they campaign against the injustice and exploitation of the third world carried out by multinational companies, they are themselves signed to a record label that is part of a multinational company. Needless to say, the criticism came from a rival band.
A hypocrite is someone who says one thing and then does another. That is, it is someone who doesn't practice what they teach, they talk the talk but they don't walk the walk. And Jesus saved some of his most scathing and cutting criticism for the religious hypocrites of his day. That can be found in Matthew 24.
So, it's a serious charge. Are Christians hypocrites?
Here's why: Christians fail to live the way they know they should.
Please note, I'm not talking about people who pretend to be Christians and aren't, we all know they're hypocrites. I'm talking about genuine followers of Christ. Ask a Christian how it is God wants them to live, or ask them what is the right way to live and they might tell you all sorts of things. But their answers could probably be summarised with two statements:
Love your neighbour as yourself. That is, love everyone the way you already love yourself. Even your enemies. That's what God commands of his people.
Love the LORD your God with all you heart, soul, mind and strength. That is, love God with everything that there is about you and your life, honour, love, worship him with every single scrap of who you are and what you do.
And there isn't a single Christian you can meet who could honestly say that they've done that. That they've even done that successfully and consistently for a whole day even.And yet, ask them what's right and wrong and they'll tell you this sort of thing, what God says. They know what's right and wrong. But they don't do it. They fail. I fail. And that's not a good thing. It's a very sad thing. Yes, they believe one thing and do another. Christians are Hypocrites.
But I also want to answer:
Here's why: Christians admit that they have failed to live God's way.
Christians don't pretend that they're anything but failures.
By definition a Christian is someone who has admitted that they are a failure and they can't live up to God's standards. They realise that they're failures and there's no way they could ever live their way into God's good books. But, and this is key, really key to understanding Jesus and Christianity; Christianity isn't about us succeeding and being good enough for God. It's about God forgiving us.
Jesus came for failures. He came to die and take the consequences of their failure. People who trust him can be forgiven their failures and rescued from the ultimate consequence of their failure, hell. A Christian is someone who stops pretending they can be good enough and admits they're not. And asks for forgiveness. And looks to God for help to not fail again.
This doesn't excuse Christians from getting things wrong. God calls us to live by his rules. The difference is he forgives us for getting it wrong and works on us, gradually changing us to be the people he wants us to be. So Christians will always be a work in progress. That is until Jesus returns and we go to be with him forever in a perfect world, where we'll also be made perfect.
So if you know any Christians who are hypocritical, remember, part of what Christianity teaches is that Christians are just forgiven failures, and Christians are also a work in progress. It's like John Newton, slave trader who turned to Christ, once said towards the end of his life:
'As I look back on my life, I realise I am not what I should be, I am not what I could be, I am not what I will be, but, I am not what I was, and by the grace of God I am what I am!'
And someone once said, 'if you find that Churches are full of hypocrites, remember, there's always room for one more'. There's a lot of truth in that statement. None of us live perfectly by our own standards, never mind God's. But thank God, he forgives and changes hypocrites. Don't let the faults and mistakes of Christians keep you away from that forgiving love of God.