Isn’t the church full of hypocrites? Part 4

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Recently I had the pleasure of addressing this fun filled topic with Pastor Jeff Denton of Waterbrook Bible Fellowship in Wylie, Texas. I am posting a question per day from that discussion. Here is question number 4..  

 

Pastor Jeff:

Jesus had severe words for hypocrites. He took these betrayals seriously. Yet, in some sense there is always a hypocrite (or two) with us. Can’t we get rid of them?  Why does the church seem to attract hypocritical people?

 

Dave:
 

We are not like a private club that has a screening process. We let everyone in. So the church really can’t be anything but dysfunctional to some degree because we allow people in all states of belief, maturity and stability. I often joke that my family reunion would look a lot better if it were by invitation only. But it is not. My family has good folks, some bad, some smart, some not so smart, some impressive and some downright embarrassing.

 

Imagine an athletic team attempting to operate as a church must. You start with a couple of All-Conference and a few other pretty good players. But you also have several who just started playing and don’t even know the rules or terminology of the game. Add some dreadfully out-of-shape, middle-aged players who have been around for years, who never work out or train, but who expect to get playing time nonetheless. You have a few who just don’t care anymore and don’t want to practice, learn the plays, or listen to the coach. But you can’t cut them from the team or even bench them without causing big problems. There are some who try hard but are too weak or injury prone to be effective. A few regularly miss games and practices without notice and then reappear expecting to play and even start. Toss in some…um…“mature” players who remember the way the game was played back when it was good. You also have some players who think the coach and his assistants are total idiots. Some passionately believe that the offensive game plan is totally wrong and that all the other players need to change to comply with their personal team philosophy…now! And then you have some who try to run their own plays when they go in the game. Many of the players meet regularly at Denny’s immediately after each game to disparage the coach and staff after saying grace over a Grand Slam breakfast.

How do you think this team would perform? If they ever won a game, it would be a miracle. Yet we have a church team with many of those same dynamics, and we seem surprised by its dysfunction. Sure, we could fix the church just like you would go about fixing the football team. Hold spiritual tryouts for all Christians before you let them join the church. Cut most of the rookie Christians or send them to another church to get experience. Waive all the Christians with bad attitudes or a poor work ethic. Fine those Christians who are late to meetings. Make the elders run laps when they miss a row while passing the offering basket. Assign fifty push-ups to the pastor if the sermon goes into overtime. (I rather like that one.) With a little discipline you could shape up the church and make it look impressive on the surface, but it would cease to be the church of the New Testament.

 

Tim Keller wrote this in The Reason for God…

 

I realize that so many people’s main problem with Christianity has far more to do with the church than with Jesus. I will grant that, on the whole, churchgoers may be weaker psychologically and morally than non-churchgoers. That should be no more surprising than the fact that people sitting in a doctor’s office are on the whole sicker than those who are not there. Churches rightly draw a higher proportion of needy people.

 

And then he makes a great point that we often overlook.

 

They also have a great number of people whose lives have been completely turned around and filled by the joy of Christ. 

To be continued…