Those Bunch of Hypocrites!

Are Church People Hypocrites?

What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.

Matt 23:13 NLT

You sit down with with a relative, friend, or acquaintance. You badly want them to know Jesus the way you do: the love, peace, joy, and forgiveness. Your talk seems to be going well until you invite them to church. They hee haw around and then say, “I don’t go to church because church people are a bunch of hypocrites!”

A long awkward silence ensues for you know that church folk have not always honored their Lord in their actions or attitudes. You mumble something about how your church is different, but the conversation is not the same.

What do you say when they claim that the church is a bunch of sinners? You say that you that you would not expect anything else. You say the condition for church membership is admitting your sinfulness. We don’t claim to be perfect. We claim to be needy, hurting, and weak, and in need of help.

What happens is that people observe church members sinning. They reason within themselves, “That person professes to be a Christian. Christians aren’t supposed to sin. That person is sinning; therefore, he is a hypocrite.” The unspoken assumption is that a Christian is one who claims he does not sin. It reality just the opposite is the case. For a Christian to be a Christian, he must first be a sinner. Being a sinner is a prerequisite for being a church member. The Christian church is one of the few organizations in the world that requires a public acknowledgement of sin as a condition for membership.

In one sense the church has fewer hypocrites than any institution because by definition the church is a haven for sinners. If the church claimed to be an organization of perfect people then her claim would be hypocritical. But no such claim is made by the church. There is no slander in the charge that the church is full of sinners. Such a statement would only compliment the church for fulfilling her divinely appointed task.

R. C. Sproul, Reason to Believe (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1982).

HT: Challies Blog

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