[This post is a work in progress as part of the CAA Catechism.]
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Summary in 400 words or less:
Often the biggest (if not one of the biggest) hindrance to people becoming Christian or turning to God (“converting”) is people who call themselves Christians. This is of course, a great difficulty. Some may call them hypocrites.
We Christians should be quick to answer: Yes, guilty as charged. However, a deeper look at hypocrisy reveals there are more than one type.
1) The Greek word, hypocrite is also used of actors. So this speaks of “inner-outer discrepancies.” I portray something I am not, or I pretend to be in love with an actress when I am thinking about what to cook when I get home.
As Christians, often we obey God in spite of our feelings (i.e., I may not feel like forgiving, but I am commanded to forgive). It is also the nature of sin to affect our wills so we may not wish to obey God all the time.
2) Another type of hypocrisy is that our ideals do not match our actions. Sometimes this is termed, “Do as I say, not as what I do.”
3) A third type is when people have double-standards: one standard for others and one standard for themselves. For instance, they may nitpick on others’ spelling errors but they often fail to proof-read their own emails sufficiently, which are full of spelling errors.
I hope and pray we are not guilty of #3, this is what Jesus is against in Matthew 7, Prov. 11:1; 20:23, etc.
As for type #1 and #2, Christians are sinners; sin affects us so deeply that we may not desire the things of God and we definitely fall short of our ideals (but that is the very definition of sin — falling short of the glory of God and His perfect commands).
However, a better tactic in dealing with this is two-fold:
1) Admit we are hypocrites and sinners,
2) But also, we need to point people back to the One who is perfect, to Christ.
The “genius” of Christianity lies not in how well it is lived out, but rather, to Christianity’s author and perfector, in His teaching, actions, atonement, resurrection and lordship. In addition, a better comparison is not comparing non-Christians and Christians, but rather, over some long period of time (say over several years, if not a decade), whether a Christian has become more-Christ-like as compared to his or her past.
Scripture for YouVersion:
Three questions (1 fill-in-the-blank, 1 multiple choice, and one discussion question):
References for further reading:
Lewis, C. S., “Mere Christianity.” Chapters: Nice People Or New Men, The New Men
Collaborators: Chris Lee
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