Note: Through the month of March I have been pondering several different concepts, one about the secular world and the other about the Christian world. Over the course of those musings, I began to realize that these seemingly unrelated concepts were united by the hypocrisy that they manifest. So I have decided to take several articles to write out some of those thoughts, first dealing with the secular aspect before moving into some thoughts about hypocrisy by professing Christians, and finally addressing how we overcome such hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy is a dangerous image to convey because of the destructive results that can ensue. It fractures society through sowing seeds of duplicity and distrust. Previously, I examined hypocrisy as a worldly initiative (you can read that article by clicking here). The culture is in the process of undermining the connection between belief and behavior, a concept that leads to the destruction of society by destroying meaningful relationships through hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy though, is not bound by social groups, ideological cliques, or analogous convictions. It takes form in whatever associations and classes exist at any given time. Therefore, Christians are not excluded from infiltration of hypocrisy. Consider Paul’s condemnation of the Romans (cf. Romans 1:18-2:11) or James’ admonition (James 2:1-13). Christians then, must be vigilant enough to guard against such infiltration and humble enough to examine themselves when it does infiltrate, leading us to consider how Christians also cultivate hypocrisy.
Christian Cultivation For years there has been a movement to transform the church so that it appears more appeasing to the world. The theory goes that in order to reach the world, the church must look like the world. Rational thinking should lead people to the conclusion that people disenfranchised with the world though, aren’t looking for more of the world, but less of it. Unfortunately, professing believers fail to recognize this and instead continue adopting the world in order to be accepted by it.
Christian Compromise The cultivation of hypocrisy within Christian circles begins with the Christian compromise. The body of Christ seeks worldly programs, initiatives, and mentalities without a thorough biblical evaluation. Under false rationalization, false exegesis, and false premises professing Christians have compromised God’s values for their own. This exchange is simply the Christian version of the worldly initiative in which there is a disconnect between belief and behavior. While confessing a belief in Christ, they have indicated that behavior does not need to reflect Christ as demonstrated by rejection of certain points of Scripture (i.e. homosexuality, marriage, divorce, etc.) while elevating other points (i.e. love) to the point of idolatry so that it displaces God’s truth and becomes a standard that not even Christ himself can fulfill.
Christian Collapse Unfortunately, compromise engineers collapse in the following ways:
It destroys certainty: When belief and behavior do not match, people can no longer be certain who the other person is. The result is a lack of trust and unwillingness to give confidence to others.
It destroys testimony: The most obvious impact is the destruction of one’s testimony. When belief or behavior do not convey the same thing, it takes away the reliability of a person’s testimony.
It destroys opportunity: Finally, the destruction of testimony and trust will result in lost opportunities to share the genuine message of Christ.
The destruction of opportunity is the direct opposite of what those cultivating compromise are attempting to accomplish. The goal is to reach the world by looking like the world, yet the opportunity is lost because the compromise indicates that Christians cannot be trusted because belief and behavior do not match.
Such a discussion requires a differentiation and an acknowledgment. First, we must differentiate between condemnation and accountability. As Christians who love one another, there is a bond that requires mutual accountability for the sake of building up the body of Christ and honoring God. However, this is done without judgment and with loving reproof. Second, we must acknowledge our imperfection. The call to get rid of hypocrisy recognizes that we make mistakes, we will fail, and we are sinners. Overcoming hypocrisy then means we handle our failures in a biblical way that acknowledges that. There is a difference between a Christian who condemns everyone else while refusing to admit his or her own sins and the Christian who seeks accountability and growth for himself/herself and others.
Therefore, Christians are not immune from this worldly initiative that promotes, or even generates, hypocrisy. However, before turning to the removal of it from our lives, we must first submit to a humble examination of ourselves and acknowledge its existence. Only then can we begin the next steps, which will be discussed next week in the final part.
Photo “The Egg” courtesy of user Shaojin Alitano Tio and Flickr.