March 16 – Hard Questions 2.0 – “How can I trust in Christianity when so many Christians are hypocrites?”

Read Romans 3:23, Hebrews 12:2 and Matthew 23:1-36

The 2020 census taken by the US government tells us that over 70% of Americans identify as Christian. That means that when someone cuts you off in traffic, or is unkind to you at the store, or gossips about you online, there is a 70% chance that person is a Christian! With the wrong behaviors seen in our communities on a daily basis, it becomes quite clear that everyone, even Christians, are frequent offenders.

What does this say about the Church? What does this say about God?

Why should one trust the Christian church when it doesn’t seem to be working?

For starters, let’s remember another one of today’s verses; ALL have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. “All” means “ALL”, as in “everyone”.) It’s important for those in the church to remember that passage to avoid notions of moral superiority and the need to condemn non-church-goers.  Christians should be screaming from the mountaintops; “I’M KNOW THAT I’M NOT PERFECT! I JUST KNOW THAT I’M FORGIVEN!” It’s important for those outside the church to understand that Christians identify as SINNERS saved by God’s grace. Expecting Christians to be morally perfect is unfair; it reveals a profound misunderstanding of who Christians are and how Christianity works.

Christians were sinners FIRST! 

In today’s lengthy passage in Matthew, try to imagine how cutting Jesus’ words were to the religious leaders of the day.  He repeatedly called them “hypocrites”, “brood of vipers”, “blind guides”, “blind fools”. These were political and religious leaders of the day; people who believed in God, endeavored to live for Him.

Jesus lit them up!

It’s easy to identify the sin of previous generations when we read about it in a book, or hear a description of a people’s past moral failing. C.S. Lewis calls it “chronological snobbery”. In 2023, are we so arrogant to think that any American church isn’t deserving of the same tongue-lashing?  

So then, why is this belief system to be trusted? How can Christianity be the solution, when those who know the solution seem so screwed up?  It’s because of the One who authored our faith – JESUS! HE said that He was the way to the Father, in spite of our sins. He lived a perfect, sinless, earthly life, and was crucified as a criminal anyway. He promised to defeat death, and rose back to life. Christians aren’t Jesus; they POINT to Jesus. The church isn’t the authority, it shows us in whom real authority resides.  Sin doesn’t point to an absence of God; it points to the NEED for God.  

If you are in a church, or are watching a church where hypocrisy is ripe, remember that the failings of the Christians are not the failings of the Christ. There’s no magic morality pill that fixes a person’s bad attitudes, bad habits, or wrong behaviors. What can be trusted is our Lord Jesus, “who endured the cross, despising the shame” made necessary by the past, present, and future failings of Christians worldwide.

Don’t judge Christianity by the temporal failures of its Christians; instead, judge it by the perfect sacrifice of its Savior!

Craig French

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