From Christian to atheist, I have heard one consistent observation about the church: they are all hypocrites. Although, this is not entirely false, the reflection does have some accuracy; yet, the question still remains for those who make such statements, are they imputing sin upon others or excusing themselves? This inquiring mind wants to know.
Well, as fervent as some might appear to be when stating such things, the truth is the Lord God of heaven never said it wasn’t so. In fact, Jesus pointed out numerous times in the bible that there would be hypocrites, wolves, thieves, and such the like masquerading as righteous folk. For example,
“…woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” (1)
“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers…” (2)
“For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets…” (3)
“But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming and shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken…” (4)
“All that ever came before me (Jesus) are thieves and robbers…” (5)
“Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (6)
In spite of what is known concerning these dastardly characters, why are some offended, discouraged and even dissident in accepting Jesus Christ? I used to believe that it was a matter of either you believe or you don’t, and while this acceptance or rejection of Christ is fundamental at its core, I have come to the conclusion that there is a logic in which one searches for evidence, and when it is not seen, the truth of God is discredited as foolishness and folklore. The scriptures are clear that there are principalities at work blinding the mind of unbelievers, but how do we go about, as Jude puts it, snatching those out of the fire? (7) I believe the answer is as Disciples of Christ, we need to stop trying to impress and prove God’s truth and just live it.
Let us look at the parable of the ten virgins in St. Matthew 25. For those familiar, I will not go into detail but it is worthy to mention that there were two groups: wise and foolish. Interestingly enough, we see the kingdom of God on earth is not perfect yet, but it is on its way to perfection. In the kingdom, both groups had a profession of faith. Both were waiting on the Lord to come. Both had to examine themselves, and both responded to the call of meeting the bridegroom. However, there is one major difference between these two groups: the oil necessary to put in their lamps. Here we see only the wise had light and that is why the foolish virgins asked the wise virgins for oil because they didn’t have any. Woe be unto those foolish virgins because when the Lord God comes, they will discover that it wasn’t a game after all. This is what the unbelievers see. The hypocrites with no oil in their vessels. Professing a truth they do not know or even believe. No wonder the enemy works hard to discredit the wise virgins because they by their actions point to the truth in Christ Jesus.
The very essence of truth is unseen. Knowing that truth in and of itself is spiritual, the logical mind cannot discern or perceive the ways of God; therefore, when he/she seeks proof of God’s existence via logic of fear, anger, science, history, or sociology (8) they will always end up frustrated and disappointed. We do not have the ability to reveal Him, but the Holy Spirit through the work of sanctification in our lives testifies to the eternal ministry of Christ. How genius of Peter to tell us to be holy in all manner of living. (9)
If you find yourself frustrated by the “look at all those hypocrites” response, keep in mind Jesus was talking to the religious leaders and the disciples. In other words, this particular message/warning was to the church. The only message for those outside of the faith is the message of salvation.
1. St. Matthew 23:14
2. St. Matthew 23:33
3. St. Matthew 24:24
4. St. Matthew 24:49
5. St. John 10:8
6. St. Matthew 7:15
7. Jude 1:23
8. Elder & Paul (2007). The Thinker’s Guide to Analytic Thinking. How to Take Thinking Apart and What to Look for When You Do. http://www.criticalthinking.org
9. I Peter 1:15