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 7…
In my opinion, this gets to the Question Behind the Question. Because if an unbeliever says they believe the church is full of hypocrites, and they don’t want to hang out with people like that, I believe they’re really saying “The only Christians I know are hypocrites who don’t care about me and live only for themselves.” I want to respond with, “Tell me about the Christians you know personally.”
If you only know the public failures. People who condemned others, only to find out they were participating in the exact sins they were condemning others for – yeah, I’d want to get away from people like that too. What I want you to know is that real, transformed, Christians – saved and in a growing relationship with Christ – do mess up. Moreover, they can accept and love you because they know the depth of the forgiveness and love they’ve experienced by the grace of God through Christ. They’re “Christian life” isn’t about living up to a legalistic set of rule, but learning to live in the grace and power of God’s transforming love.
AND If I’M the only Christian you know personally, and you think we’re all hypocrites, then I’m convicted that I better look at my own walk a little closer. Why isn’t the testimony of MY life demonstrating something different in your eyes?
Dave, what do you say to this unbeliever that really has an issue with Christian hypocrites?
I agree with them. I confess that the church does have hypocrites. I respond with a question like, “Is that something you’ve heard about or have you had a personal experience with someone in a church who hurt you?” Sometimes people just need for someone to know and acknowledge that they were hurt by a Christian and they would appreciate a compassionate response. That was the message of my second book. They need to hear “I am so sorry you had to experience that. And I would suggest that such an experience hurts the heart of Jesus too.”
You could respond to the accusation of hypocrisy like this: “I have a relationship with Christ not because I’m good but precisely because I am not good. He rescued me from myself and the ruin I was causing. But He’s changing me. I’m still a mess, but I’m God’s mess.”
Next…the exciting conclusion.