What About All the Hypocrites?
By Connie Strasheim
What about all the hypocrites that call themselves Christian, but don't live it?
Several possible answers exist to this question. The first is that people can be religious, and not really know God. They may be Christians for reasons of power, security, or to gain acceptance from others. Perhaps, out of fear, they need to create an ideal of God that has little to do with who He is and their preconceived notions keep them from truly knowing Him. For instance, those who have had abusive upbringings may believe God to possess characteristics akin to their earthly fathers, which hinders them from really experiencing His gentleness.
For others, the message of the Cross has not reached their hearts because of an attitude of ingratitude or a spirit of entitlement towards God. In a society where we are mightily blessed with health and material wealth, we tend to downplay God’s sacrifice of Jesus Christ as a BIG deal. When in fact, without it, we would never have the possibility of eternal life.
Not having truly encountered God will leave a person unchanged, and any attempts at Christ-like behavior are phony.
Apparent hypocrisy also can happen for other reasons. Christians and non-Christians alike tend to uphold an ideal for Christian behavior that may be unrealistic. Christians are expected to live as Jesus Christ did. While this is possible with God’s help, nobody will ever be able to do this as perfectly as Him. Christians who love God strive to love Him and others, but they are nonetheless human and will make mistakes.
Also, rather than expecting immediate and total sanctification, Christians and non-Christians alike ought to realize that holiness is a process that takes a lifetime. Evidence of God working in a Christian’s life is more powerfully seen in someone who has improved tenfold in his behavior towards others since surrendering his life to God. Anyone can spot a hypocrite a mile away because they don't grow in their faith, they settle for their belief in religious practices. What comes more naturally for the “healthy” man may require a supernatural indwelling of God’s spirit in the man who was abused. Hence, it is important to look not only at outward behavior. A person’s holiness cannot be measured by comparing it to some uniform standard of behavior that is expected for all Christians across the board.
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