By now it is universally accepted that people–especially young adults are leaving the church in masses. One reason, it seems, is because Christians are perceived as hypocritical. Whether it is intentional or not, their lifestyles do not match up with what they profess to be important. Rather than a call to be sacrificial and community servants, Christians are accused of being image-driven and self-oriented.
How did we acquire this image of hypocrisy?
When the lifestyle of a Christian became identical to that of worldliness. Our principles became watered down accolades. And, our integrity came into question. Who wants to be a part of something that doesn’t stand firm?
While perpetrating this deteriorating charade of integrity, what is the message we convey? It is a notion that being a Christian means, “Being Good” and we advertise this message through our beliefs of following rules. When you measure your faith by rules, then you are setting yourself up for failure, because you will be evaluated by those same rules, which are impossible to keep, all the time. This kind of hypocrisy creates, distinctive, spiritual barricades. Matt. 23:13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”
Christians often believe that those leaving the faith are leaving because the rules are too restrictive, which most of time is not truly why they are departing at all. Yet, ironically, we are so adamant in trying to fix the morals of others through rules, rather than offer love to them. Paul states it clearly, “But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (Gal. 5:13b) Holiness is not achieved through a list of rules, but rather through the daily giving up of one’s own desires, for those of God and others; to be pure in spirit and truly self-sacrificial.
Like every generation, the young people continue to push the boundaries and reshape moral rules. But striving for holiness in one’s life is a universal standard.
In addition, we need to stop pretending we’re something that we’re not. Being transparent and open about our faults. We need to be honest with ourselves and to others about our own lives. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16) Only then will it lead to restoration. In order to reverse the onslaught of hypocrisy we need to fix ourselves with Integrity (having strong principles), Purity (a striving for holiness) and transparency (easy to perceive ones failures and successes).
The difficult part about fixing this impression is that Christians get defensive when accused of hypocrisy. Young adults want to find people that they can trust and confide in. If Christians are not transparent and get defensive, it only stands to reason that young adults will feel uncomfortable and awkward and eventually flee from that scenario.
How can we reverse this impression and squash moral superiority in our lives? Love others unconditionally. Make love the priority and not the rules. Build relationships through transparency in our lives; Act first, talk second.
Question: In practical terms, what does this look like specifically in each of your lives? What can each of us do to truly reverse the perception of hypocrisy?